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Cornell University Library 


The play way; an essay in educational met 

3 1924 013 406 313 

Cornell University 

The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 






[After Corbould 




The satisfaction felt in returning to schools and scholars after 
more than three years in a somewhat uncongenial emplojmnent 
has not in any sense altered my desire to help in effecting a 
lively reform in these quiet and studious places. I feel the 
classroom stuffier than ever, the autocracy of the pedant more 
imbearable, the process of spoon-feeding more repugnant ; 
and have received, on the other hand, a full confirmation of the 
doctrine of self-responsibility and the driving-power of interest. 
The methods of instruction even in the army have developed 
noticeably in the direction of the Play Way, and the old bulljang 
style of the barrack square is giving place to common-sense 
training based on the pupils' interest, and using as a medium 
games and the acting of what is to be learnt. 

Now that the social revolution spoken of above is in every 
man's mouth as " Reconstruction," let us see to it that the 
fight for liberty (for the peoples have found this outstanding 
principle through all complexities) is not rendered tragically 
unavailing by our incapacity rightly to interpret the freedom 
won. And just as in affairs of State it will be found that we 
must temporarily readjust our old life to the new conditions 
before imdertaking this wholesale " Reconstruction," so let us 
realize in the schools that before we can attain to a complete 
all-roimd scheme of natural education in self-governing com- 
munities we must undergo a transition stage of " partial 
liberation from the classroom." To demonstrate how this 
may be undertaken is the purpose and scope of this book. 

London, January 1918 



This book sets forth some ideas and practical suggestions on 
educational method which it is hoped may prove helpful to 
those teachers who have not shut their minds against proposals 
for reform. The whole conception of the Play Way is the 
outcome of original thought and fancy. But if most of the 
practices recommended, and all the ideas upon which that 
practice is foimded, can be traced to known influences and 
matched in the past history of education, then so much the 
better for the Play Way. For we must keep in touch with 
tradition. The only originality claimed is a fresh realization 
of the oldest truths, 

Though not unmindful of the great influence which the 

present war must exert upon education, I have intentionally 

abstained from attempting to draw any conclusions from the 

current upheaval, partly because what is here written was 

conceived before the war broke out, but chiefly because it is 

as yet too early to speak confidently of the results for education 

which it will bring. Many thoughtful people claim to discern 

a conflict of principle in this war and they are much to be envied 

their belief. The issue is very complex, but it is certain at 

any rate that the war, with all the sacrifice it involves and all 

the nobility it has awakened, is being considered by those who 

rule our rulers as a commercial transaction on a consununate 

scale. It is the biggest business deal on record. All the ideal 

aspects of this world commotion, the liberation, the choice of 

rule and the renewal of spiritual activity in the life of the peoples 

will still remain to be undertaken by idealists and workers after 

the military operations have ceased. A social revolution of 

some kind will be necessary in England after the declaration 

of peace on the Continent ; for, even supposing some fair principle 



established by force of arms, it has still to be •wrought into a 
living practice by right education and good government. For 
many of us the greater war is yet to come. In any case we are 
still only at the very beginning of the changes which this genera- 
tion will see. The reader will understand, therefore, why I 
have not allowed any thoughts upon the meaning of the present 
unrest to complicate these few simple chapters on schoolmastery. 

It was originally intended to include three further chapters, 
on Prose and Verse Composition respectively, and a sketch of 
the organization of an ideal Play School. But the manuscript 
proved too long for one volume and so these chapters have been 
removed. The reader, however, who is desirous of stud5dng 
the method as applied to Prose and Verse Composition is referred 
to the Perse Playbooks.* The Utopian scheme of a Play 
School Commonwealth which we hope to see founded before 
long in England as a model for all English Schools must remain 
to be pictured in another book. 

Finally I must ask the reader's indulgence for the discursive 
and disordered state in which the argument of this book is 
presented. For the past four years I have been intending to 
write the book of the Play Way, but have always been deterred 
by the magnitude of the task. And now, for fear lest the book 
should never be written at all, I have been compelled to make 
the best of my case in a great hurry. What should have been 
the careful work of years is here offered with an apology as the 
work of a few overbusy months, eventually brought to a 
conclusion somewhere in France. If the reader will bear this 
in mind I will imdertake to requite him hereafter with the 
fuller and more reasoned discourse which will be possible in a 
more quiet time. 


Cambbidge, November 1915 

* Perse Playbooks, Nos 1-6. (W. Heffer and Sons, Cambridge.) 


The most part of a series of articles contributed to the 
New Age in 1914 have been incorporated in this book 
by permission of the Editor. Certain passages from 
the introductions to the Perse Playbooks have also 
been included. A few paragraphs from an article con- 
tributed to Poetry and Drama have also been used with 
the Editor's permission. The photographs of Play- 
town were taken by a professional photographer, one 
or two pictures of the boys by Mr. H. L. Watkinson, 
and the rest by the Author. I am also indebted to 
the kindness of Mr. Watkinson for the plan of Play- 
town, and to Mr. R. B. Appleton and to Mr. D. S. 
Paterson for much assistance in the reading of 
manuscript and proofs. 



Pirate Ilond {Coloured) Frontispiece 

" The Gods " dictating their Lines after inventing 

THE " Rag " Scene in Baldr's Death {Act II, Scene 2) 81 



Mixed Grill Ilond {Coloured) 100 

Gareth Hostel, Green Hill, Upper River and Lock 172 

The Market-Place, St. Nicholl's Station, and Castle Hill 172 

Adrian's Wharf and the Deep Drop Coal Mine 180 

The Capture of St. Nicholl's 180 

The Witches and Hecate in " Macbeth " 190 

The Three Murderers in " Macbeth " 190 

" Anthony : You all do know this mantle " 210 

" Marulliis : And do you now put on your best attire " 210 


King Alfred in the Camp of the Danes 248 

Gerda and Skirnir 270 
" Thus they renisht them to ride 

Of two good renisht steeds " 270 

Two Shakespearean Servants 308 

Macbeth 808 

The Murderers in " The Babes in the Wood " 308 

Baldr the God of Light 324 

HoDR the God of Darkness 324 




Thobb the God of Thundeb 330 

LoKi THE God of Fiee 330 

A Hebald 340 

Heney the Fifth 340 

Viola 340 

A Shakesfeabean Soloieb 340 

Plan of Flaytown, 191 A At end of volume 



Quickly would I make my path even, 
And by mere playing go to heaven. 

Henky Vaughan 

The natural means of study in youth is play, as any one may 
see for himself by watching any child or young animal when it 
is left alone. A natural education is by practice, by doing 
things, and not by instruction, the hearing how, as you may see 
in the flight of a yoimg bird. And telling can only be the 
servant of trying, not its substitute. Certainly preliminary 
advice and warning might save us from many a sore trial, but we 
rarely profit by any experience other than our own. The burnt 
child dreads the fire, but the child that has only been warned 
is still to be burnt. Therefore wild oats are more approved by 
men of the world than moral lectures. But instead of leaving a 
child to gain wisdom by painful as well as pleasant experience, 
it is well to let him try as much as he can for himself under 
guidance. It would not be wise to send a child innocent into 
the big world ; and talking is of poor avail. But it is possible 
to hold rehearsals, to try our strength in a make-believe big 
world. And that is Play. 

The main concern in a child's life is that manifold business 
understood clearly by him, and dimly by his elders, as Play. He 
wakes up in bed even before the dawn, and plots out a fairyland 
of play-doings for the day imtil he is allowed to get up. Then 
while the fires are still crackling on the wood you can hear him 
pattering about the landing or singing on the stairs. Dressing 
is a nuisance because it reqiiires his presence in one place for 
some twenty minutes ; toys must come to table ; food itself must 
fumisb a game. Porridge is an island in a sea of milk, and he 

A 1 


would be rather more interested than shocked to find a chicken 
in every egg. School, above the kindergarten, is a nuisance 
because there is no play, So he lives on throughout the dayhght 
hours, playing many parts, as pirate, or king-in-a-crown, or beast 
of prey ; in the tree tops, or underground, or sailing merrily on 
the salt sea, until that little nightly tragedy of bedtime. 

After dark, nurse, however amiable, comes as a fury with 
abhorred shears. As an onlooker at the drama I always regard 
her coming as the prelude to an affecting finish. She is the 
executioner whose summons must be obeyed. Have you not 
admired the fortitude with which the little hero — ^though there 
are cowards, we know — ^goes on his round of farewell to the 
waking world ? Have you not observed that he always carries 
an air of detachment, salutes even his mother as though he were 
thinking of something else ; and how he looks back from the 
door ? However, one shall find upstairs certain friends who can 
float in a bath ; and after all 

My bed is like a little boat ; 

Nurse helps me in -when I embark. 
She girds me in my sailor's coat, 

And starts me in the dark. 

And so to dream. 

It must have occurred to every one that since a child's life 
under his own direction is conducted all in play, whatever else 
we want to interest him in should be carried on in that medium, 
or at the very least connected with play as closely as possible. 

Why should there stretch such an abyss between the nursery 
and the classroom ? Ah, yes, they tell us, but life is not going to 
be all a game. They must learn the serious side of things. By 
the Ufe of the world ! What could be more serious than child's- 
play? I know of nothing so whole-hearted, so thorough, so 
natural, so free from stain, so earnest, as the spontaneous playing 
of a child. Take a child in the nursery and consider him beside 
these grave adults at their concerns. Compare a game of toy 
soldiers with the conduct of a campaign. The difference is in 
degree and not in kind. Consider whether the little maid in the 
day nursery is less engrossed in the care of her doll than the other 
maid in the night nursery is in the care of her baby. Do you play 


more fair at politics than we do at ninepins ? And has any man as 
much care for the rules of the game in commerce, and as much 
respect for his opponents, as he has in cricket ? In the one it 
is a question of what he can make, in the other all is subject to 
fair play. I tell you that sincere endeavour and honesty of 
purpose can only be relied on under conditions that favour their 
continuance ! Whether he be paid well or not, so long as a man's 
heart is in his work it is well with him and well for the work. 
Beyond that we cannot go. The force of extraneous need, or 
compulsion of any kind, however necessary it be, blunts honesty, 
dulls the zeal of whole-hearted endeavour ; and if it come in 
much strength will spoil all. The child is the true amateur, he 
does a thing for the love of it. Among all workers he is the 
player, and alone is fit to stand beside the genuine artist, the 
self-sacrificing physician, and the inspired poet or seer. His 
hearty interest is a powerful engine which will carry a heavy 
load eventually to its appointed destination. What though 
you claim to know where that may be, and to know also of a 
shorter route ? Is it not better to follow the engine that pulls the 
train, rather than drag it back, even though its route be round- 
about ? It may be that the way will prove more level and the 
countryside more beautiful. A child following his natural 
bent wdll play. His whole power is in play. Beware of trying 
to make rivers run up hills instead of flowing roimd them. 

To me it seems obvious where the trouble Ues : the teacher 
works, whether consciously or unconsciously, on his own lines, 
and not in and for his children. The teacher may have a beauti- 
ful system, a course of work schemed, graded, and ordered in 
admirable shape, and thoroughly approved by his or her chief, 
and by his Majesty's inspector to boot. But what if the child's 
mind does not work orderly ? — ^which happens to be the case. 
What will his Majesty do then, poor thing ? What if a growing 
mind scorns systematic progress (which also is true), and leaps 
back and forth over the field of study, now shining with the 
brilliance of a light full focused, now showing as black as the 
back of a lighthouse lantern ? Let us have outline schemes by 
all means, but leave the details to the hour in which it shall 
be told us what we shall do. Let us remember that without 
interest there is no learning, and since the child's interest w all in 



play it is necessary, whatever the matter in hand, that the method 
be a play-method. Otherwise there will be no guests at the table, 
and the feast will lie stale in om* hands. 

Much of what I have to say is obvious, but that is unavoidable, 
for the most well-accepted principles are generally ignored in 
practice. The conduct of most people is founded on the prin- 
ciples they most condemn. 

I have said that when you consider a child you will find, as 
Stevenson says, that "he intent, is all on his play-business bent " : 
and, therefore, whatever you want a child to do heartily must be 
contrived and conducted as play. It may seem a strange thing 
to suggest that the boys and girls of the upper school should have 
as much play as the infants in the kindergarten, but this is what 
I do propose. Boys and girls nowadays have their play gradually 
thinned out until little is left to them as adults but a round of 
golf or a game of cards. When work and play are separated, the 
one becomes mere drudgery, the other mere pastime. Neither is 
then of any value in life. It is the core of my faith that the 
only work worth doing is really play ; for by play I mean the 
doing anything with one's heart in it. 

The Play Way is a means, but I cannot say what the end may 
be, except more play. In like manner the whole purpose of life 
for me, being no philosopher, is simply living. What I have now 
to say sounds very puerile, but I have no doubt the same could be 
foimd subtly said in many learned books. We must let ourselves 
live fully, by doing thoroughly those things we have a natural 
desire to do ; the sole restrictions being that we so order the 
course of our life as not to impair those energies by which we 
live, nor hinder other men so long as they also seem to be living 
well. Right and wrong in the play of life are not different from 
the right and wrong of the playing-field. We must obey the 
clear rules ; and what is more, have a sense of fair play, and, in 
chief, play with all our hearts in the game. 

Is this foundation of the Play Way so simple as to need no 
statement ? Look in our nurseries, look in our schools, look 
in our fields, factories, and workshops. Which of us has the 
chance to do thoroughly that which he has the desire to do ? 


But the right of every man to live a human life is daily becoming 
something more than a sentimental platitude. And when, long 
hence, every man shall find work to his hand that is noble to do, 
and leisure also to rest from his labours, there will be few foimd 
subtle enough to say where the work ends and the leisure begins. 
Work that is done with joy at heart, and leisure that is not 
wasted, merge into one as Play. 

But my especial concern is with the schools. Can any one 
say that life in school is so ordered as not to impair those energies 
by which the children live ? If the children were moved by 
natural desire to do as we now make them do in school, then 
there would be no need of this same compulsion. Of the 
children's view of the work we give them is it not still true 
to say, " Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books " ? 
And as for their view of the play we plan, who has not heard 
of that crowning indignity, compulsory games ? " Some boys, 
are by nature slack," says the public-school man, " and have to 
be brought up to scratch." " By nature they are the children 
of evil," said the teacher of old time, " conceived in wickedness 
and bom in sin." " Many of us are bom blind," say I. " Let 
us have the Play Way." 

The advice in " Hamlet " that " the purpose of playing, both 
at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror 
up to nature," is said of actors. But Shakespeare also said : 

All the world's a stage. 
And all the men and women merely players. 

So the words in " Hamlet " come fitly as a text ; the more so 
since child's-play, being less artificial, is a nearer parallel to 
life than is stage-play. 

However dense a maze of difficulty may arise in the appli- 
cation of it, the one principle of human conduct is clear enough. 
A man's aim in life is to carry out the promptings of his instinct, 
to do as he was bom to do, to be natural. It is possible to go 
wrong of course, because man has a faculty of free will, as any one 
may learn in the third book of " Paradise Lost." The sole 
directions towards right are the example of the external world, 
and the promptings of the hmnan heart by which we live. 
The urging of nature is subject to the contro.' of reason, but 


reason is not the compelling force. Thoughts and deeds can 
only be held by reason as right or wrong, wise or unwise, fair 
or foul, in r, far as they further or retard the one end of life, 
which is to u /v. ir accord with our nature, giving scope to every 
faculty, exercise to every power (for good, we might add, but 
that vice is only virtue misdirected, power ill-used). 

The function of reason is to maintain a just equipoise. 
Take the analogy of the body. Food is necessary, but if a man 
eat too much his body is made unfit to hve well : the same if 
he eat too little. And so with sleep, exercise, and the other 
functions of the body ; all of which are pleasiu-able in order 
that man may be persuaded to live and be healthy. A natural 
function is iastinctively pleasant so that it may not fall into 
disuse : and the one end of life is to take these pleasures indicated 
by nature as a means to life. But " with this special observancfij 
that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature." 

Health of body or mind is a matter of balance, it is the 
level. But health is a positive thing, not merely the negation 
bf sickness and disease. To be fit should be our first endeavour. 
But fitness implies fitness for something. Health itself is only 
the beginning of things, the floor cleared for dancing. But 
how few of us go in for large spaces in our dealing. How many 
are content with compromise, with a modicum of comfort, 
with freedom from pain. Having cleared a little space we are 
happy to sit down in it. Having borne a little burden we look 
for sleep ; and there is neither room nor time for play. 

A healthy body tingles with an intense power of joy, is 
triumphant in his great hold upon life, looks in the face of 
heaven, and is himself a god. The body that is full of health 
knows neither labour nor loafing, but only play. It seems there 
is nothing he cannot do with ease and delight. The red of his 
cheek is not hectic, there is no exertion in his vigour, and his 
calm is without strain. His very walking is full of imthought 
grace, for hs does nothing unlovely. But I find that I have 
described the Playboy. 

Just as this positive feeling of boiily well-being comes only 
with the fitness of every nerve and muscle, so there is a fullness 
of life that can come to the spirit of man only in the free play of 
all his natural desires. 


There are necessary functions of the body without whose 
operation it dies ; and some which, though not so essential to 
existence, are essential to well-being. Nearly every man or 
woman you know lives only on those functions which are essential 
to existence, and ignores those essential to well-being. Few 
men starve their bodies, but most men starve their souls. It 
is clearly as sinful to take too little of a good thing as to take 
too much. But of this the narrow-minded, stay-at-home type 
of mind will never be persuaded. 

Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits. 

The present-day puritan has that negative habit of mind 
which condemns all forms of excess but excess of restraint ; 
though all may see that the nonconformist conscience stands for 
a very debauch of denial. 

What a talk there is nowadays, too, of saving time. It 
were easy to say that time is to be spent, not saved ; only one 
knows that, do what we may, time will go by us. The sole 
concern of such as are wise is to take the full yield of every 
aarvest, not to sow acres that shall never be reaped. Not he 
who covers the most ground, but he who has most delight in his 
journey, is tbe better traveller. Hard labom: now in the hope 
of a longer rest later on is a delusion that any child may discover. 
When my brothers and I, as little boys, grew tired in walking we 
used to run on ahead of the nurse to rest on the next seat or 
milestone. But she came upon us unpleasantly soon, and we were 
still panting. To-day cannot be set aside to be spent next year. 
This sacrifice of a present joy in the hope of obtaining a greater 
in the future is immoral only because it is so hopelessly futile ; it 
is sellmg one's soul with no prospect of anything better to buy. 
He who saves up all the meals of a week for one great feed on 
Saturday finds himself with no stomach for the banquet. 

The application to our schools is this : Education nowadays 
is study or, at best, theoretical training. That is, the learning 
how things have been done or, at best, how to do them. Study, 
simple of itself, is a means only ; and training, as training, has 
always some distant end or other. When the joy is not yet felt 
the value is still to seek. But whenever we have joy in what we 
are doing it is then the doing that is of first importance. Of 



course, in doing we are doing something, so we must not look 
upon the Play Way simply as a notion of adding interest to 
undertakings. In going we are going somewhere, so the whole of 
my suggestion is not merely that we go gaily. For the Play 
Way is not a bunch of contrivances for making scholarly pursuits 
pleasurable, but the active philosophy of making pleasurable 
pursuits valuable. But the claim here put forward is not for 
the destination, but chiefly for the journey. Any means that 
becomes in this way an end in itself I call the Play Way. Play 
is the one means that is an end in itself, for " that we would do, 
we should do when we would." It is of no use to seek further 
for a definition of Play. Play is one of the fundamentals of life, 
capable of anything but a further explanation. The refinements 
of the learned may lay bare the simple, but they can never 
solve it. 

* 4: « « 4: 4: 

Why this everlasting slavery to books ? We are frightened 
of initiative, and cling to what we fancy is established. But 
it is only established because we cling to it. It is not knowledge 
we store in books, it is ourselves we bury ; for we do not use 
our book as an encouragement, a test, or a diversion ; we 
make it the very prop and mainstay of our lives. And yet 
those very books that make their mark, the ones we admire, are 
those which break new ground, and not the ones that glean behind 
a long-ingathered harvest. And still we are fearful of step- 
ping out ourselves without handbooks, guide-books, textbooks. 
Many a man will not write even a coiirse of lectures without 
consulting as many volumes as he can reach, giving as much to 
search and research as he does to his own thinking. And the 
poor child's hfe in school is all books. We adults, for all our 
whole-hearted belief in printed wisdom, would not tolerate 
day after day the literary confinement we put upon these little 
disbelievers. But each generation in its turn so orders the affair 
of its successor that revolt rather than recognition becomes more 
and more the sign of manhood. The grown youth no longer 
dons the toga virilis, he throws off his jacket to fight against the 
rule of his elders. 

Can we not rid ourselves of the tyranny of print even for 
a little while ? To subordinate books to a more active conduct 


of life, whether in the region of original thought or in the busy- 
traffic of men and things is to put no slur upon the mighty book- 
men that have been. The best of them used or made books, 
and did not let them use or make him. And where are your 
historians, from the makers of earliest epic down to the latest 
biographer, apart from the life they witness ? For the fabric 
of their chronicle is wrought of the deeds of men, so that however 
noble the record they make, or the prophecy either, life itself, 
and not its recital, is still the stuff of their say. Moreover there 
are many who feel that the more intense is the glow of romance, 
and the more ideal the portraiture, only by so much the more 
near comes that showing forth to the real figure of life, quick and 
working. But because doing comes before saying, or, coming 
after, is greater nevertheless, I do not deny the poet the highest 
place in the hierarchy of men of power ; but I put him first as a 
maker, a creator, which supposes things still to be, and not as a 
recorder, a mere repository of a gleaming past. 

The world goes on, and the life of each individual with it, 
not in telling what has been done, nor in saying what yet remains 
to do, but in the present doing of present deeds. Let the reader 
squirm if he will because I labour the obvious ; I will writhe, too, 
because for all our knowledge we do not act on it ; power runs to 
waste, and the water overflows the wheel it will not turn. A 
moment's thought, a pause to recall old faded realizations, will 
tell you at once what is lacking. It is the will to do. We do not 
feel what we know ; that is, we have not the will to translate 
power into deeds. 

Interest must be the starting-point in all we do, or we shall 
not do well. The best expression of one's thought is the use of 
the right words in their fullest sense, the unfolding of the 
latent philosophy in words. I can make no clearer exposition 
of my thesis than may be found in the true reading of the terms 
here in use. Interest is " what matters," the one thing needful. 
You may call it " interessence," if you will ; that is, the being 
at the very heart of the matter. Once there you have only 
to do as interest bids. The operation of interest is Play. To 
do anything with interest, to get at the heart of the matter and 
live there active — ^that is Play. You need not ask how we are 
to come by this interest, for it is the heart's desire we are bom 



with. There is no truth but the old truth : interest is only what 
your hand finds to do, and play is but doing it with your might. 

Consider what pedagogy is doing for the child. This elfish 
little being with itching fingers and restless feet, full of ciu:iosity 
and a desire to investigate ; this quaint embodiment of wonder, 
this ache of instinctive longing, is taught to read before he can 
word his questions intelligibly, is given information on subjects 
which have no interest for him, while yet his real wants remain im- 
satisfied ; is set to pore upon the thrice-diluted opinions of others 
rather than allowed to try anything for himself. He is bound 
over to letters in defiance of the spirit, and of the play-call of 
nature which alone speaks with authority and not as the scribes. 

For fear of a possible misunderstanding I must here most 
definitely dissociate the Play Way and myself from any who 
decry study and belittle the value of books. We yield to none 
in our love of and faithfulness to literature. Our complaint is 
against that pedantic misuse of books which represents the 
greater part of what is called education at the present time. 

Why this everlasting slavery to books ? The defenders of 
the old regime protest that there is much virtue in your book. 
Certainly it is the storehouse of wisdom, and treasures up the 
achievement of old time. But to what end ? Is there not virtue 
also in your boy ? I say the boy shall master the book ; but not 
if he is bound a slave to it. Where is the boy to find the real 
experience of his life if not in his own doing and thinking ? 
You give him moulds for his brick-making, and overseers, and 
models and straw. But you give him no clay. 

I sometimes feel that the best models for school-books are 
those manuals of conjuring wherein nothing is intelligible imtil 
you set to work upon the apparatus ; or dance-books full of 
impossible jargon which must be translated into action before 
it can have meaning and delight ; or cookery-books which 
satisfy neither hunger nor curiosity until the pudding is made — 
the proof of which is always in the eating. 

For one boy who has gained any knowledge at school through 
the experience of his own senses, five hundred — ^nay, five 
thousand — ^have been deluded with the shadow of knowledge 
cast in the form of some one else's opinion. That one lad is 
generally " a lazy good-for-nothing scoimdrel." Another timo 


I should like to take up the discussion of the scholar's mental 
content. How much of the learning he possesses is of any value 
at all as his own ; and how far does he merely exist in handing 
on the conclusions of other men as he has taken them over 
entire ? I fear that many a famous scholar is no better than a 
shopful of ready-made goods. 

The sad condition of our schools is mainly owing to the 
teachers' unthinking compliance with a rotten tradition. The 
defence of those who have given thought to the matter of book- 
learning amounts to no more than this : " The individual child 
cannot try over again for himself all the experience of the ages, 
and therefore he must study the record of the past." But this 
study, to have any value, must persuade the child to live over 
again, briefly in his imagination, the ages gone by ; and my 
simple contention is that the child be allowed to express his 
imaginings in the manner that most appeals to him, the way that 
is most natural. This will be the Play Way, with the high 
thoughts and noble endeavour of that super-reality which is 

It comes in the end to this : Why should we stop a game now 
going on in order to dictate the rules of another which we do not 
intend shall ever be played ? Why call in Robin Hood and the 
Redskins and the Pirate Captain from the playground to read of 
Luther, or even of Coeur de Lion ? 

" But we have pretty pictures in our books." 

" Ah, yes, so we have. And here is a man wielding a sword 
just like the one you made me leave in the lobby. Please may I 
go and fetch it ? " 

" No, you may not." 

" But, please sir " 

" Get on with your work." 

Old habits of mind are not easily broken. You are convinced, 
are you not, that school is a place of learning to which a boy 
must come in order that he may learn ? But it is not so in 
truth. The boy is first. Again, you have told your pupils very 
often — ^have you not ? — " You must remember that you come 
here to work." Quite apart from the mean way in which the 
whole question is thus settled without reference to the wishes 
of the one most concerned, this point of view is entirely wrong. 



What the Greeks called <rxo^, and the Romans ludus, 
be expressed in English by the word play. 

Once you realize that the teacher only exists for the learne*, 
once you believe that the soul of any other being entrusted to 
yoiu- care is greater than the furniture of your own mind, once 
this belief in you reaches the level of a faith, then, believe me, 
the mountain of your learning and self-sufficiency is easily 
removed and brought to the feet of the prophet. 

In religion, in philosophy, in poetry, in politics, in all the 
affairs of men that go far enough to require a guide, there 
is every now and then a revolution. The flow of human thought 
is subject to deep-reaching disturbance from time to time. 
Numerous causes co-operate to produce a periodical troubling of 
the waters, a welter in which the principles of all himian concern 
are involved. At such a time faiths are transformed, new ideals 
set up, and the hope of millions set in another direction. Fused 
in the heat of active change, institutions lose their character, 
and creeds, doctrines, and opinions are all melted and remodelled. 
Nothing passes scatheless through the fire, and the world, as man 
has made it, is created anew. 

If this spirit of revolution could be sununed up in a phrase 
it would be foimd always to represent a clearing away of encrusted 
dogma, a breaking from bondage grown irksome, an upsetting of 
the tables of authority, and a restatement of direction and aim. 
But, to the great joy of all true believers, the new ideals are only 
revivals of the old, stripped of base accretion ; the new heaven 
and the new earth are those of the old creation, only cleansed 
by the flood. Your true revolutionary is only a conservative 
endowed with insight. 

The seer brings his vision to the market-place, and urges 
the people to destroy their city and rebuild it. They do so, 
but live on in these new homes, adding from time to time a coat 
of paint or a crust of stucco, and still calling them new imtil 
reawakened by the coming of another seer. 

Though it would be imwise to prophesy any definite changes 
which the war will bring about in education, yet it is possible 
tor us to recognize even now its cathartic action, and to feel that 


a spiritual freshening is abroad. It is certain that many educa- 
tional fads and quackeries have already been killed by this war. 
It is perhaps not quite so clear what positive gain education 
will have made. I believe the gain will show itself in a more 
practical and common-sense view of the whole problem . There 
will be less musty scholarship, less doing of things simply because 
they always have been done, less of the dogmatic pedagogue 
with his cut-and-dried doctrines and systems, less spoon-feeding 
of ready-made opinions. There will be more life, more reality, 
more conformity with present-day needs, more recognition of 
the pupil's point of view. We shall come nearer to making 
our school a place for the life-training of boys and girls, instead 
of a place where unworldly men and unimaginative women give 
instruction in set subjects. We might even attain a school of 
which it would be true to say, " Here we learn," instead of, 
" Here they teach." 

The spiritual freshening will soon show itself in schools 
in the reform of method. The boys (I cannot safely include 
girls in any statement I make, for I have had no experience 
in teaching them) — the boys, then, being looked at individually 
instead of being overlooked collectively, will at once gain 
in freedom. For we must not suppose that a teacher will 
recognize the existence of John's or Harry's personahty only 
to crush it. In the very first use the boys make of their 
comparative freedom you will have indications of what was 
lacking in your method. And the more eagerly they show their 
desire to do or not to do this or that, the more clearly you 
will see what is needed. I do not suggest that the boys should 
be allowed to wreck the classroom as a demonstration of their 
distaste for sitting still in their desks ; nor that they should 
be permitted to make a bonfire of French and Latin grammars 
as a protest against the difficulties of formal language-study. 
But I do say that the teacher who makes the best use of every 
opportunity that arises for letting the boys move about the 
room in ordered play will soon be convinced that boys can 
learn without always sitting still. And it is a case already 
proved to the general satisfaction of the intelligent that languages 
are more readily as well as more pleasantly learnt when the 
study of formal grammar is subordinated to real practice of 



the language in speaking. The boys will unconsciously make 
clear to you many things about the teaching of boys so soon as 
you give them the opportunity. 

It will perhaps be said that it does not need a colossal wai 
in Europe, the armed conflict of a dozen nations, to show us 
how to teach boys. But, in the first place, nothing could more 
plainly show the need of a better education in all countries 
than a tragedy of this magnitude. And further, I maintain 
that only some such universal troubling of the waters as we see 
in this present cataclysm is powerful enough in this era to break 
the old habits of thought, to clear away the obscuring mists of 
prejudice, self-sufficiency, and hypocrisy, and to let in the fresh 
air of common sense, along with the sunshine of new interest, to 
the minds of men. The schoolmaster, certainly no less than 
other men, has need of this fresh air and sunshine. 

But then, if incrustation is a natural process, and therefore 
unavoidable, and if periodical outbreak is in consequence 
equally necessary, must not the world submit to these costly 
regenerating cures from age to age. What is the solution ? 

The solution, as it seems to me at least, is this. We must 
keep us alive through all our hving days, and not give way 
to security or the indulgence of lethargy. The longer we keep 
pent up those energies which should be daily brought into play, 
the greater will be the explosion when they must come out. 
And, on the other hand, the more dross we suffer to accumulate 
the greater must be our effort to get rid of it when at last it 
becomes stifling and insufferable. As the process of metabolism 
by which our bodies live is a continuous process of change 
and readjustment, and not a periodic renewal, in which 
waste matter is normally eliminated in proportion as living 
tissue is created ; so must our mental and spiritual life go on 
by performing equally its two-sided fimction of creation and 
destruction, of going forward and of leaving behind. 

So far as in us lies we must neither allow our own minds 
nor compel those of others to accumulate more than is assimi- 
lable. On the one side there is storing up, on the other side 
there is using up ; and beyond a certain limit both of these 
are harmful. To take a little more than is needful, whether 
for the body in the way of food and rest, or for the mind in the 


way ol learning or contemplation, makes for luxury. To admit 
more still above this unfixed margin of luxury* makes the 
body or the mind sick and in need of cure by change and exercise. 
The same truth holds in the case of too much exercise and use, 
with too little nourishment and recuperative rest The body 
or the mind will then again fall out of health and be in need of 
cure by rest and recreation. 

Those who make the body politic their study will find like 
conclusions to hold good also of statecraft. 

We must, then, for health and well-being, preserve a balance 
in the conduct of our lives. Health, power of decision, sanity, 
justice, goodness, all these things are his who stands, thinks, 
lives at poise. The right ordering of this balance or poise 
must be a daily, even an hourly concern, in fact an ever- 
present cure. For if we permit ourselves to run to excess in 
this or that direction, subject only to a periodic self-examina- 
tion, a deferred audit, we shall soon again find ourselves 
mantling and stagnating like the later nineteenth century, and 
then exploding like 1914. 

The Play Way is an endeavour to achieve right conduct in 
a true blend of the functioning of all man's powers. If it is 
true to say that we must not act without thinking, why is it 
not equally true to say that we must not think without acting ? 

If all men had kept alive in them the faculty of poetry, 
that divine unrest, they would never be satisfied with make- 
shift settlement, but would be for ever striving, ever making. 
But the exciting influence is always short-lived. The need of 
constant change and renewal as the indispensable condition, 

* It is, of course, impossible to say exactly when we are making a boy 
swallow too much learning. But the mean in all things is never possible 
to be determined with exactitude ; it is but a man's judgment between 
extremes. I believe that a perfect education sheuld aim at giving a boy 
a many-sided active life in school, teaching him at the same time how to 
acquire the knowledge needed for each occupation, and how to apply it. 
Thus he would not be equipped with a store of learning enough to last him 
a lifetime, but would rather be taught how to learn in order to do, and 
how to do in order to learn. To call such a training a " general educa- 
tion " would be a just description. The " general education " of the age 
now passing has been a banquet of instruction without any practe ia 
the use of the learning so obtained. 



not alone of growth, but of life itself, is not realized by the 
common gathering of men. It is the daily inspiration that is 
lacking ; the spirit that can be tuned afresh by every new 
appeal of beauty. There is no strength from without, nor 
inward reservoir of power upon which we may draw in the hour 
of hiury or doubt. The manna of to-day will not be sweet 
to-morrow, for the love of our reliance must be new every 

To supply this hourly stimulus is the chief function of 
poetry ; but of poetry active, not embalmed in printed books. 
Poetry keeps alive the spiritual significance which informs all 
ceremonial observance, and reinforces that strength and hope 
which differentiate work from drudgery. Poetry deals with 
real life, but it must deal with the aim and intention of life, 
its aspirations and outreachings. It should have but a very 
small place as a chronicle of everyday occurrence, with its 
tale of vain endeavour, or as a criticism of passing custom, 
with its fads and eccentricities. That is more the province 
of Punch and other satirists. Poetry must concern itself with 
those ideas and appearances which either inform or tjrpify 
human enterprise at its highest. " Poetry is the breath and 
finer spirit of all knowledge ; it is the impassioned expression 
which is in the countenance of all Science." 

The class of poetry to set before boys is that — ^whether 
ancient, mediaeval, or modem — ^which is full of the spirit which 
is stirring at the present day. Also the boys must themselves 
come forth as poets. Thus and thus only can the poetry 
they read have anything more than an aesthetic appeal. I am 
confident that a good teacher, given fair conditions, could lead 
his pupils to regard poetry as the inspiration of their daily life. 
And this is Play in its finest form, namely, the ideal in action 
and reality. Poetry, the work of a maker, must itself be 
creative ; must not stop short at impression, but originate 
expression ; must not be magniloquent only, but magnificent 
as well. " Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge— it is 
as immortal as the heart of man." 

Play, as I mean it, goes far deeper than study ; it passes 
beyond reasoning, and lighting up the chambers of the imagi- 
nation, quickens the body of thought, and proves all things in 


action. The study of books, however thorough, may yet remain 
but superficial, in the sense that there may be no feeling of 
reality behind it. " No impression without expression *' is 
a hoary maxim, but even to-day learning is often knowing 
without much care ioT feeling, and mostly none at all for doing. 
Learning may remain detached, as a garment, imidentified 
with self. But by Play I mean the doing anything one knows 
with one's heart in it. The final appreciation in life and in 
study is to put oneself into the thing studied and to live there 
active. And that is Playing. Thus the source of all art is 
imitation in the fullest sense, not copy, but identification. 
We know that in appreciating a poem one is a poet oneself. 
But why ? Because the piece only lives by being played over 
and over again for ever, by players who have the true feeling 
for it at heart. But in order to earn the high title of Play, 
the appreciation must be not only felt, but expressed. 

And this hath now bis heart 
And unto this he frames his song. 

As if his whole vocation 
Were endless imitation. 

By definition Play includes the practice of all the arts. And 
BO I am brought to face a paradox, which is none of my making, 
" Work, then, is Play," says a disputant, smiling. Elaborately 
we reason it out that if Play is the doing anything with one's 
heart in it, a man's life-work is Play, and all lesser works are 
only to be justified by their contributing, in greater or less 
degree, to this greatest work — ^which must be Play. Yes, I 
subscribe to this. 

There is a belief most prevalent among hard-headed business 
men that while they are really doing good work an artist is only 
playing at it. That is what so annoys the bourgeois, and it 
helps to account for the attitude of scomftil tolerance with 
which the artist is generally regarded by philistines. The man 
thinks he is working, and yet he is quite openly and shamelessly 
enjoying himself! It isn't at all right in their opinion that 
any one should " have it both ways." 

Those unwritten scriptures which guide the souls of rigid 
puritans to their damnation distinguish very markedly between 

B 17 


work and pleasure The dullest and most soul-killing work is 
rich in virtue, and will have its reward, if not here, then here- 
after. But even the tamest of pleasures is very risky and 
savours not a little of wickedness. If one could really get at 
the inside of the puritan conscience, I doubt not this surprising 
discovery : That he does not admit that a diversion may be a 
recreation. For him no diversion is quite innocent. And those 
little pleasxires he allows himself a secular concert, a picnic 
on the river, anything in fine more daring than a walk in the 
park — all these are as it were a yielding to htmian frailty lest 
one be thought arrogant ; a propitiatory offering to the arch- 
tempter lest he haunt us in the hours of toil. A puritan feels 
much selfrgratification in toiling up a hill, and is rather ashamed 
of coasting down the other side. He looks, possibly a little 
in envy and certainly much in awe, upon that other daring 
fellow who is cheerfully undertaking the climb with nothing 
better in view than the immediate reward of achievement. The 
puritan is of opinion that every race should be an obstacle race ; 
and is convinced that he who goes the primrose way is destined 
for the everlasting bonfire. 

There is more of the puritan in your average schoolmaster 
than is generally recognized, and though of course he does not 
frown upon play in its due place out of school, he finds it very 
hard to see how play and study can be carried on at one and the 
same time. To him it seems that taking joy in the enjoyable 
part precludes industrious application to the more laborious part. 
As though work and play, pleasure and learning, a measure of 
natural freedom and a natural measure of restraint were mutually 
exclusive terms. 

It is a principle of the Play Way that the finest conceptions 
of the mind are not lessened in value, but enhanced, by being put 
to use, brought into play. This form of play is not in any sense 
a diversion. It is an active expression of what one feels, and 
might almost be called an observance of some spiritual rite. 
And it is another principle of the Play Way that the use of 
certain forms of expression, forms of play, and traditional 
observances can themselves help us to appreciate the spirit which 
made them. Let us examine this more fully. 

Religious faith is a spiritual passion of which art m all 


ts forms may be the expression. A religion which could embody 
Itself in stated form on a tract or in a creed would be worth 
nothing to art. The deepest things do not easily admit of 
definite statement ; they need the power of imagination to body 
them forth. But tracts and addresses are merely exhortations to 
men that they should give their thoughts to religion ; and hymns 
and prayers, and rites and ceremonies, and impassioned sermons 
are the various efforts to articulate something of the spirit 
which is felt by the devotee. It is always assumed that the 
spirit must first be perceived before we can worship it. But my 
purpose here is to show that help may come from the other 
Bide. If the spiritual feeling which should initiate devotional 
exercise be weak or apparently lacking, it may be, and often 
is, stimulated and even created by the trustful observance of 
the rites and ceremonies and of traditional and conventional 
forms in which the spirit has been known to reside. 

Not necessarily all art, but the best art is the expression 
of faith in some ideal. Faith is an emotional experience to 
which a man's life may bear witness and which his death may 
ratify, but which art alone can express. But art does not express 
the spirit it serves by preaching to the reason to obey, but by 
stimidating the imagination to create for itself. I can neither 
make clear to myself what I believe, nor teach another what 
he shall believe. All I can hope to do by my art is to get others 
to bring their imaginative powers into play, to make them gods 
of their own. For, as my tutor used to say, " Art teaches, 
not by a definitely didactic force, but by an indefinite spiritual- 

Mr. Edmund Holmes, in his educational essay " What Is 
and What Might Be," makes, if I remember rightly, a severe 
criticism of obedience to authority as a guiding principle in life as 
contrasted withf areliance upon one's own ideal conception. The 
word " religion " is closely connected with the word " rely," and 
religious faith is always said to give an ever-present sense of 
being guided, a sense of having some touchstone by which to 
distinguish the good from the bad (when it is not a matter of 
taste I), a sense of being supported in pursuit of the one and 
delivered from the temptation of the other. What we are to 
believe in, what faith we are to hold, is of course the one subject 



of the deepest speculation, and consequently far beyond my 
powers. But though each several man must interpret for 
himself the highest experiences of his spiritual life, yet there is 
possible a community of reverence and a community of worship ; 
"^nd in the end it is only communal worship which gives a reality 
to private belief. 

So that, though I do not make the absurd claim of preaching 
a definite faith, of dispensing religion in tabloid form, yet I 
do think that any man may preach worship ; that is, a recog- 
nition of the things of value and the value of things, and a hving 
in accord with this recognition. Worship is the active recog- 
nition of worthiness. The commonplace that worship is not 
merely the acknowledgment of good, but the practice of it, 
enables me to make my point clear. It is that this statement is 
equally true, and in my opinion far more true, when read the 
other way on : Only through the practice of anything can come a 
full acknowledgment of its worth. This, being such a definite 
statement, implies a host of qualifications, but I must be allowed 
to hold them in suspension for a while. 

Accordingly, if it be asked : " How shall we revive a feeling 
for art values in the minds of the people ? " I suggest in reply : 
Open up again the practice of the arts, and the stream of tradition 
will flow again through your handiwork, and give it life. 

Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; 

Yea, lift them up, ye everlasting doors : 

And the King of glory shall come in. 

Who is this King of glory ? 

The Lord of hosts, 

He is the King of glory. 

When I wish to help little boys to see the might and beauty 
of poetry, I do not discourse upon poetics. As a plajmtiaster I 
know it is more practical to start the whole miracle with the 
one word "Make." You must faU straight away upon the 
actual work, and you will find out what you are doing as you go 
along. More and more you feel what you ought to do, and 
now and then, if you are lucky, you manage to do it. And 
aU the time, of course, you have a synapathy and understanding 
with the art-doings of others, whether those others be the past- 
masters of your craft or merely your fellow-prentices. 


To do a thing first in the hope of finding out later on how, 
and eventually why, may appear at first a queer suggestion, 
as though one should deliberately put the cart before the horse. 
But, short of visions and divine revelations, how else, I may ask, 
are we to acquire an imptilse to work and a skill in working ? 
Of course it is not denied that a great artist often starts with an 
idea which he gradually works out into some expressive form. 
But, even in his case, consider the manifold additions that accrue 
to him as he goes along, the miraculous gifts latent in the nature 
of tool and material, the fullness of inspiration that comes only 
in the hour of doing. I may instance, in passing, the conventions 
of the Elizabethan theatre, which served as it were the office of a 
mould to shape many of the most wonderful achievements of 
Shakespeare. Or call them paths down which he ran and rivers 
he had to bridge. If good plays are to be made, they must 
be wrought on an existing stage convention, and wrought fit, 
not written out of a man's head. It is the same with other 
arts, they must cease to be airy nothing, and get them a local 

So long as we sit still and ask why some one doesn't get up 
and do something, nothing will happen ; but so soon as we 
rise and fall to, then it will all be happening as before. The 
gods help those that help themselves. If the Devil finds work 
for idle hands, which I doubt not, it is equally certain that 
God Himself directs the busy. What right has any one to speak 
of faith who does not admit that there is some higher aid to be 
hoped for than lies in his own poor efforts ? The wise artist is 
like a young mother trimming a cradle, and sewing tiny garments 
against the happening of a creative wonder. Build you a fair 
nest overnight and you may wake to find a bird in it. 

It is my expectation, then, that the beliefs and traditions, 
which now seem all so dead, will be restored among us when we 
observe again the forms and ceremonies in which they reside. 
Do we await the visitation of a god ? None but a visitation of 
wrath seems possible to-day.* Let us build a fane, and therein, 
over the consecrated altar, shall the unknown god be declared. 
The sun shines all over the earth, but no flowers grow on the 
cinder-heap, which is kept arid by the daily piling up of ashes. 
• This was originally written in the spring of 1914. 



Where in these days shall the spirit find an abiding-place, and 
where shall he set up his rest ? While temple' there is none, 

Nor altar heap'd with flowers ; 
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan 

Upon the midnight hours ; 
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no inoense sweet 

From chain-swung censer teeming ; 
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat 

Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming. 



And, in after years. 
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured 
Into a sober pleasure ; when thy mind 
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, 
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place 
For all sweet sounds and harmonies ; oh ! then, 
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief. 
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts 
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, 
And these my exhortations ! 


The subject of this chapter is such a wide one that the various 
matters to be dealt with can best be discussed under a few 
positive maxims. 

The method of study is quite as important as the matter studied. 

The classroom should to a very large extent be considered 
the boys' place, and not a sanctum nor a penitentiary. Vittorino 
da Feltre, that playmaster among Renaissance educators, 
called his school at Mantua " La Casa Giocosa," or the House 
of Delight, and decorated it accordingly, so that the children 
might be brought up in beautiful surroundings. But teachers 
of to-day have to work under authorities so blind to the finer 
influences of education as to provide only the barest accommoda- 
tion. But our methods of teaching the children need not be 
bleak and gloomy to match the surroundings. 

The mind is its own place, and in itself 

Can make a Heaven o' Hell, a Hell of Heaven. 

The creative fancy of Littleman in play can " make a sunshine 



in a shady place," and under due encouragement he will not 
only make this dungeon bright, but wiU triumph over many 
another obstacle which would seem to the teacher to make 
real play impossible. If the classroom is really regarded 
as the boys' room, if the boys' point of view is given faur 
consideration in all that takes place in that room, then many 
play-methods wiU come into being of their own accord. 
Certainly the teacher must initiate many play-ways, but there 
can be no doubt that the boys if they are given leave will 
initiate many play-ways of their own. 

A teacher's chief thought aU the while he is in the classroom 
should be for the boys. If he is not present simply for the 
sake of the boys what is he doing in the classroom at all ? 
Is he practising there for a slave-driver, or cramming the poor 
wretches for an examination ; or is he simply earning a living 
while he fits himself for another profession ? 

It is not denied that many teachers do give carefxil thought 
to presenting the subject-matter of their teaching in an interest- 
ing way. But few, if any, have realized for themselves (or 
will be ready to admit now that it is suggested) that with young 
boys the method of study is quite as important as the matter 

It is upon a recognition of this principle that most of the 
classroom practice in play is based. Consider what that 
statement implies. The teacher instead of being mainly, if not 
exclusively, interested in putting some particular subject- 
matter before the class, and seeing that they swallow that 
and attend to nothing else, will be quite ready to find emerging 
out of the subject he introduces some method of study which 
will develop a life of its own. It may even leave his original 
subject-matter far behind. It will occur time and again that 
what was at first undertaken only as a method of dealing with 
certain subject-matter will become itself the main concern. 

Can such a thing be justified ? Let us take an illustration. 

In the kindergarten and the elementary school play-methods 
are quite familiar. The simplest illustration, then, can be 
drawn from the teaching of very yoimg pupils. 

There are lessons for which the children bring daffodils 
to school. The lesson begins perhaps with questions and 


answers connected with a simple study of the daffodil (nature 
stiidy). Then Wordsworth's " Daffodils " is read and discussed 
(poetry). In many cases teachers have songs about flowers 
for the children to learn (singing). And however many lessons 
all this may have taken it is certain that, before they have 
finished their study of the daffodils, the children will make 
pictures of them (drawing and brush-work). And there is no 
teacher of little children who would not, if she had the means, 
bring out of those few simple words 

And then my heart with pleasure fills 
And dances with the dafiodUs 

all the joy of spring which the poet put into them, by teaching 
the children to perform a " Dance of the Daffodils." Series 
of lessons such as this, comprising a play-activity of several 
kinds, are an everyday occiirrence in elementary schools. The 
fact that the verses used in such lessons are too often the merest 
rubbish, and the music and dancing, when included at all, 
of the worst possible tjrpe — sentimental wishy-washy stuff — 
is a great pity, but it does not in any way affect my illustration. 
The subject-matter of such a lesson as this might be described 
as " The Daffodil." It probably is thus simply entered in the 
syllabus of work done. But it is obvious that the whole value 
of the lessons lies in what the children have done in reading, 
singing, painting, and dancing, and in the way all this activity 
is bound up with the beauty of flowers, the joy of spring-time, 
the feeling for music, and the glad experience of rh3i;hmical 
movement. Here then are many of the finest experiences of 
life centred roimd the alleged study of one flower. The value has 
come, not from the subject, but from the method of treating it. 
Could not something of the same method be carried out 
in secondary schools ? Why should we give up all that is active 
and real and alive in method so soon as the subject with which 
we are concerned becomes of serious moment ? Why should 
children be considered adult so soon as they leave the kinder- 
garten ? The play-method is not asking for every school subject 
to be treated as though it were a parlour game. But it is asking 
that school studies should be brought more into relation with 
the activities of daily life. Some teachers speak and behave 



as though a man actively engaged were always just amusing 
himself, or otherwise wasting time which he might be devoting 
to study ! 

Others imagine that while active movement may be desirable 
and easily possible in connexion with such things as the acting 
and making of plays, it is in no way an essential part of more 
formal subjects such as mathematics, science, or language study. 
It is often thought that an active play-method in connexion 
with such studies can only be introduced as a means of diversion 
or for the lightening of the burden of abstract study. That 
in itself were surely reason enough for including a measure 
of play in all our teaching. But it happens that play as treated 
in this book includes always two meanings, one, the sheer 
enjoyable activity of a game, and the other, that active side, 
that bringing into play of what one knows, which in real life 
is always as large a part of any undertaking as is the learning 
side. That is a modest statement, for in real life we gain 
proficiency far more through practice than we do through 
instruction or theoretical study. 

What active measures of play, then, can be suggested 
in the study of the more formal subjects ? At this point I 
can only offer a few tentative and rather himiorous suggestions 
which would have to be shaped into practical use by the 
specialist teachers of such subjects ; for one cannot give detailed 
proposals for the teaching of subjects of which one knows 
nothing. But I am convinced that the general method of the 
Play Way is in accord with the nature of boys, and that it 
can be adapted by any original teacher to suit his special 

Small boys learn geometry nowadays instead of EucUd; 
and this, I understand, has the advantage of giving them a 
few little operations to perform carefully with instruments. 
This exercise requires some dexterity and neat fingering to ensure 
absolute accuracy. But we should go further than this in 
the use of implements and handiwork in connexion with 
mathematical study. Milton says, " At the same time might 
be taught them the rules of Arithmetic, and soon after the 
Elements of Geometry, even playing, as the old manner was." 
Several mathematicians have assured me that many parts of 


their subject could be taught actively in connexion with 
handicrafts, such as carpentry. Working to scale from a plan 
suggests itself at once. Accuracy and clean work are essential 
to a carpenter. That necessary precision of a joiner, who by 
measurement makes things fit, is surely a mathematical 
quality. There is assuredly much scope for active handwork 
and the making of things in connexion with elementary mathe- 

In addition to plays there are many other sides of English 
teaching which have flourished in our classroom in an atmosphere 
of games and " goings on." If such an essentially literary 
thing as a poem can be turned into a game, if a good prose 
style can be honestly shown as the outcome of a course of 
noisy play, what an opportunity there must be for the teachers 
of mathematics, elementary science, and handicraft to come 
near to the boys' real interests. For most boys are fascinated 
by technical and mechanical things. They love engines and 
motors and dynamos and explosives and aeroplanes and photo- 
graphy. If their intense love of these gins is not made use of 
in connexion with the school subjects most nearly concerned, 
then those teachers are surely neglecting a most powerful aid 
to their work. Even such a commonplace toy as a boy's kite 
offers scope for much in the way of practical lessons. If an 
ingenious master of geometry should give a course of lessons, 
as a result of which twenty-five boys had made twenty-five 
kites, I think those toys would not be the sole result. And 
what a sight it would be when they all trooped out on the first 
windy day to fly them on the hills ! 

More than once I have sat in a classroom and looked on 
at a fascinating lesson, in which one determined the width 
of a given river, not by direct measurement, but by doing 
learned things with convenient and obliging trees by means 
of angles, and many strange signs and tokens. Possibly the 
position of the sun was brought in also, but of this I am not 
sure. I was always consumed with a desire to ask two questions. 
First, 10% one should want to know the width of the river ? 
and secondly, what one would do if the tree were not there, 
or happened to be in the wrong position ? I have spent many 
days boating or swimming, or lounging by the river-side, but 



never yet saw any one attempting these calculations on a real 
river. But perhaps it is done. 

When a mathematical master comes to that point in his 
teaching where the width of a river is to be determined, why 
should he not hold a class by the river-side, with a few patrols 
of senior scouts ? Under the direction of the scoutmaster 
and the woodwork master the boys might then build a bridge 
Even the Latin master might turn up, and contribute not a 
little by improving the luncheon interval with a few quotations 
from the text of Csesar ! 

But, jesting apart, much might be done with formal studies, 
even in the classroom, to link them up with the doing of 
something, if masters would but give their minds to it. Not 
only handicrafts are required, but some active application 
of the thing learnt such as is here described in connexion with 
English studies. If some thought were given to use and 
skill in all school subjects; as well as to knowledge and appraisal, 
education would soon become more truly a training for life 
than any one can claim it to be at present. Let us not forget 
how much of life-practice it was possible to plan for the tiny 
children in the simple study of a daffodil. 

Direct instruction is only a smalt part of what can take place in 
the classroom. 

The habit of spoon-feeding has become a second nature 
to most of us, so that we are now unable to realize that in our 
teaching we are all the while giving first consideration to what 
is after all merely a partial treatment of some subject. We 
give scarcely any positive consideration to the boys. All is 
conceived m relation to the sacred Subject. This will be 
vigorously denied by teachers. But let us take an illustration 
which will remove the scales of habit from our eyes. 

Suppose yourself to enter a classroom full of boys, with 
no intention of administering a dose of any subject whatever. 
The boys would sit and wait, and you would sit and look at 
them without the remotest notion of what to do with them for 
forty-five minutes. Without a dose of some subject to ad- 


minister you would be powerless. The period would probably 
be frittered away in desultory conversation. 

How much worse is the position when illness or something else 
prevents the master from taking his lesson. If the boys are 
left imattended they do absolutely nothing of any educational 
kind. If some one comes to set them to work it is always desk- 
work, exercises done from the book ; that is to say, self-spoon- 
feeding from a store of preserves. 

One of the best experiences of practical method which could 
be planned for training college students would be to take a 
classroom full of boys — any group of boys more or less of an 
age — ^and require the student to take charge of them for an 
hour, imder a promise not to " take the lesson " himself, not to 
teach any recognized subject, and as far as possible to avoid 
giving any instruction at all. 

" But what is the poor man to do ? " you ask. That of 
course is the first question which would occm- to the student, 
" What do you want me to do with them ? " My reply would 
be, " Anything you or they can think of, for this first period ; 
and after that you won't need to ask." 

It is some such position as this which he who wishes to 
understand the Play Way methods should start from. Not 
that the Play Way implies in any sense the negation of a subject 
to be taught. Far from it. But the daily dose of a subject 
is not the only thing that nciakes a lesson. And this device 
of trying to get through a whole period without a " subject " 
might be the quickest way of discovering for oneself all the 
possibilities there are of " things to do " other than direct 

It would be an excellent plan if a free period could be assigned 
once a week, or once a fortnight, to every form in every school ; 
the boys being left to decide for themselves, either individually 
or collectively, what should be done with the time. At first 
they would merely read books or talk idly. Soon they would 
begin to band together in concerted play. A few hints or 
some play organization by the master could then set afoot 
all kinds of activities which, as time went on, would gradually 
become more purposeful, more serious. And in the end this 
" free " period, in the hands of a tactful master, could, with 



the enthusiastic consent of the boys, be filled with sonae " goings 
on " which would be quite as valuable from the point of view 
of learning as any of his direct instruction lessons. 

The matter has been approached from this aspect, not 
because there is any practical advantage to an understanding 
teacher in starting from sheer undirected play, and working 
gradually up to learning, but in order to make it quite 
clear (i) that direct instruction is only a small part of 
what can take place in the classroom, and (ii) that the 
play-methods suggested throughout this book are not a 
relaxation or a diversion from real study, but only an 
active way of learning. 

It may be thought that the wretched student turned into 
a classroom full of boys with apparently nothing to do would 
be lucky to come out with his reason unimpaired at the end 
of the hour. But boys always " try it on " with a new teacher, 
and there is no reason why the student should be any better 
off if he were trying to instruct the class than if he were willing 
to let them have their own way for this first period. Boys 
accustomed to the usual system of classroom instruction will 
certainly make a great noise during their first lesson with 
any new teacher, and will continue to " rag " him until he has 
gained command over them. But for how long do you fancy 
the class would continue to be noisy if the student informed 
them that they could do as they pleased for all he would say ? 
Of course if he tried sarcasto his chances of gaining their goodwill 
would be considerably reduced. Boys accustomed to classroom 
instruction all their days would, I fear, be unable to suggest 
any occupation for that hoxu", and the student would have to 
"put them up to something," at least to give them a start. 
Thus he would fail in the letter of his promise. But at all 
events he would have had a good initiation into the possibilities 
of practical method. But with boys accustomed to undertake 
some part of their classroom studies in active play there wovdd be 
no such difficulty. The new teacher only need have the wisdom 
to leave everything to the boys at first, and then gradually make 
his influence felt in their counsels. If he boimced in and 
began ordering them about, these boys would forget all their 
self-government, all their habits of unconscious discipline, 


and would turn round and " rag " the new-comer as unmercifully 
as did the boys who had had no such training. In return he 
would have to assert his authority by every means in his power, 
and it might then be months before any system of self-govern- 
ment could exist under him. 

Boys accustomed to learn in active play are not only able 
but anxious to continue their work, whether the master is 
actually directing or not ; and will take a pride in looking 
after themselves even in his absence. No one denies that the 
master is a necessary part of the scheme. He is of course 
the very centre of it, or, better still, he is the circumference, 
the primum mobile. And no one denies, either, that it is an 
important part of a master's duty to give the boys direct 
instruction. But his work with the boys shoiild not be merely 
a succession of daily lectures and " obstinate questionings," 
but rather an influence continuously operative, though not 
constantly asserted. 

Self-government is not a matter of discipline only, but a condition 
which makes it possible for the boys to learn by themselves 
in actiud lessons. 

Every teacher knows that boys can conduct certain re- 
vision lessons on their own account. And in many small ways 
boys are already permitted to learn without help, to correct 
themselves from a book, or even to " hear " one another. 
But the self -teaching system is capable of much extension. 

If active play-methods have been running for some time 
under the master's guidance, the method will have become 
familiar to the boys, so that they can not only repeat what 
has already been done, but carry on into the study of new 
matter. If a certain class has worked through " The Merchant 
of Venice " on the play-method, there is no reason at all why 
the same boys could not go through the first reading of " Julius 
Csesar " or " Macbeth " without a master being present at 
any one of the lessons. This is possible because the first 
reading merely consists in acting the play straight through 
under the direction of a mister,* without any unnecessary 

* See p. 67. 



interruptions.* The master would of course go over the ground 
with them a second time to deal with scores of interesting and 
important points. And a third and even a fourth - reading 
would still leave much to be studied. But any class which 
did not contain too large a proportion of stupids could carry 
through that first reading quite alone, and obtain great benefit 
from it. While this was going on the master, in another room, 
could give special tuition to one or two boys at a time. 

This actual experiment has not been tried, but there are 
obvious advantages in the plan. For instance : 

1. The boys would be doing as Dr. Johnson 
recommended in the study of Shakespeare, i.e. First of all 
to read the play straight through from beginning to end for 
the sake of sheer enjoyment in the story, passing over all 
difficulties, and completely ignoring all that the critics 
have said. 

2- They would get fiirst of all their own view of the 
play, uncomplicated by any possible influence from the 

8. They would be learning to study for themselves. 

4. They would be learning the advantages of working 
amicably together in pursuit of the same end, without the 
possibility of recourse to a higher authority, who would 
settle disputes by crushing one side of an argument or the 

5. They would be sure to make the study an enjoyable 
one (because there would be no occasion to make it anything 
else) and would thus discover for themselves the pleasant side 
of learning. 

* Of course there will be many mistakes. I remember a very amusing 
misconception of a mister who was directing the production of " Macbeth " 
while I was present. In Act i. Scene 7, there is a very important stage- 
direction : " Hautboys. Torches. Enter a Sewer, and divers Servants 
with Dishes and Service over the stage. Then enter Macbeth." I told 
the boys that this was important because the procession of servants going 
in with dishes is all we are shown of the banquet which occupies Duncan 
and the rest while Macbeth and Lady Macbeth speak together outside. The 
mister seemed to have more players than were necessary, so 1 asked him, 
" "Who are these two boys f " " Those, sir," replied the mister confidently, 
" are the Ho-boyi." 


6. They would also discover that play with something 
of substance in it was more satisfying than aimless amusement, 
and thus lay the foundations of an intelligent use of leisure 
hours which might well last them a life-time. 

In another chapter instances are given of a junior class 
which (in the presence of the master) conducted its own oral 
composition lessons for a whole year in the form of original 
lectures ; and of a group of Belgian boys who, though new to 
the play-methods and previously most unruly, not only con- 
ducted one chance lesson in the absence of the master, but 
actually petitioned to run that lesson in private for themselves 
as a regular thing. The petition was granted. 

Such instances as these, which could be multiplied, are 
given prominence here because teachers who put faith in 
methods of self-government are still too apt to look upon a 
boy's own charge of his learning as something unusual, a 
chance experiment which even if not very successful they find 
entertaining, much as one does the tricks and antics of a per- 
forming dog. Dr. Johnson, when making a similar comparison, 
said : " It is not well done, but you are surprised to see it done 
at all." Teachers must not look upon self-teaching as a kind 
of side-show. They must not be surprised to see it ; and 
they must allow enough practice at it to ensure its being well 
done. If the play-methods are in any way to mark an advance 
upon the old repressive methods, it must be in their absolutely 
natural character. The boy under the old system has no 
chance to be himself. We must make sure that any new 
system does not involve an equally artificial behaviour, but 
that the boys are free to be boys, frank and genuine in the 
pleasure they take in their work, and not deceiving either 
themselves or the teacher when they behave well and work 
well without compulsion. 

The educational advantages to be obtained from including 
this self -teaching as a regular part of the school course require 
but little demonstration for those who are not prejudiced. 
The interest of the boys can be counted upon with greater 
certainty if they are working in their own way, and under 
their own responsibility, than if they were always under the 

c 33 


Instruction of a teacher. And when instruction time comes 
they will give a truer and more active attention — first, because 
their respect for the teacher is not based upon fear of pimishment, 
but upon a sure knowledge that he is trusting them, and that 
he has even a greater belief in them than they have in themselves ; 
and, secondly, because they have a tise for the content of that 
instruction. Boys about to act a Shakespeare play under 
their own mister will listen closely to the master's preliminary 
instruction lesson about the conditions of play-production 
in the classroom. This lesson would not of course consist 
of warnings against misbehaviour, but would embrace much 
teaching in the craft of the stage, and of Elizabethan con- 
ventions concerning costume, scenery, lighting, business, 
properties, and " shows." And after the first reading there 
would be literally hundreds of questions asked, and an inteUigent 
audience ready to give good heed to the answers, and able 
to understand them. 

The active form in which the boys' own lessons are generally 
conducted gives them an understanding of the relationship 
between learning and doing, between study and practice. 

Of course it is possible for one boy to instruct the rest, 
instead of the whole class taking active part. Some interesting 
examples of this have been seen, notably a series of three lessons 
given by a boy of thirteen to the fourth form when the master 
was absent through illness. They were Latin lessons, and 
throughout each whole period of forty-five minutes scarce a 
score of Enghsh words were uttered in the rooni. The lad was 
only just tall enough to be seen over the mountain of huge 
tomes such as classical masters pile upon their desks. And it 
was a delight not easily to be forgotten to see his alert and 
merry face bobbing up and down behind the leather-backs, 
and to observe how, the more difficulties he had to negotiate, 
the more he enjoyed himself. Every now and then he would 
turn aside with a learned air but doubtful, as who should say, 
" M-yes, but I wonder if you would find it in Cicero ? " and 
forthwith consult a tremendous dictionary which was almost 
more than he could lift. He had been called out unexpectedly 
to take the lesson, and so there was more need to consult Lewis 
and Short than he could have wished. In the evening he excused 


himself from a dress rehearsal of his own play, which he was 
stage-managing, on the ground that to-morrow's Latin lesson 
must be very thoroughly prepared. He also asked me if 
schoolmasters ever had to prepare their lessons ; and I repUed 
that of course they had to look over the matter, unless they 
already had it at their finger-tips. 

But as a general rule it is best, in those lessons where the 
master himself is not teaching, for instruction to be suspended, 
and for as many boys as possible to engage in operations. 
For though one boy may not often be able to teach the rest 
very much, a number of them playing together can learn very 
well by themselves. 

Particular methods of self-teaching in connexion with oral 
composition, playmaking, and other subjects are given in 
full in other chapters. But a system of testing " Repetition " 
and other memory work may be described here. 

The hearing of " Repetition " is a great nuisance. Either 
a few selected boys only are tested, in which case many others 
feel, though of course unjustifiably, that their labour of the 
night before was wasted ; or the whole class is heard in turn, 
and the best part of a period is thus frittered away. In either 
case there is no real opportunity for teaching anything in the 
way of delivery or expression, because the lines are only just 
known, and the boy's main attention is therefore given to 
recalUng them. And for the whole class to write out the set 
passage means either encouraging careless writing and neglect 
of punctuation, or, alternatively, a punctilious attention to 
these things, which takes the mind off the appreciation of the 
poetry, which was presumably to have been the valuable part 
of the exercise. 

Repetition can very well be heard in partnership.* The 
boys sit in pairs and each hears the other, and marks him 
according to some scheme agreed upon. At first our playboys 
organized a competition between Rights and Lefts. The 

* A special study of Partnership in classroom teaching has been made 
by Mr. Norman MacMmm, and the method worked out in connexion with 
the teaching of French and other subjects. Partnership has obvious 
limitations, and can never become the principal method in the classroom ; 
nevertheless it can be put to very good use, 



marks of all those sitting on the right hand of a pair were added 
together, and compared with the total of all those sitting on 
the left of a pair. For a few weeks they used to watch for 
the totals with interest. But one day some thoughtful boy 
in the third form pointed out that, as there was no combination 
of effort among the members of a side, they could share no 
common glory. At that the adding of totals was abandoned 
amid laughter. 

The boys fall upon the hearing of repetition of Shakespeare 
passages as soon as they enter the classroom, and they waste 
no time over it, in order that the acting may begin as soon as 
possible. While the hearing is in full swing the noise is con- 
siderable, but it is one of the most gratifying experiences of 
their goodwill and discipline to hear this great babble of voices, 
which gradually thins out until but one voice is left. The latest 
reciter generally makes a brave show, because he knows every one 
can hear him. Then he also ceases. In the silence the mistei 
rises with his list and calls only the first name of the roll. Each 
boy in turn cries out his marks. Precious time is not wasted 
in calling out all the names. 

Twenty or thirty lines can thus be tested from the whole 
class in a few minutes. It is not pretended that this is anything 
but a test of repetition. Expression and delivery must be 
dealt with separately. Also, the affair is not always put through 
so neatly as I have described it. But the boys should in this, 
and in all other matters, be encouraged to aim at a perfection 
of discipline. A piece of business of this kind, if thoroughly 
well done, has a beauty of its own. 

// boys are to be taught by means of play the master must have 
a genuine interest in the play. 

All boys are alike in some respects, but no two boys are 
alike in all respects. The duty of the master is to be for ever 
making opportunities for boys of every type of character to 
express themselves, and so bring about the natural perfection 
of their several abilities. He must so order his method that 
the group of boys under his guidance may act as a corporate 
body, influenced by communal ideas ; and at the same time 


he must see that scope is given to the development of individual 
personality. There is many a mtist in educational practice, 
but the most urgent of them all is the must which nature has 
implanted in the character of the boy. 

Although the members of a class are seldom enough treated 
as individuals, it is even more rare to find a class treated as a 
conscious group. The boys are either addressed collectively, 
or they are set to do each his version of the same task separately. 
It is an excellent plan to treat the class, whenever possible, 
as a body of workers collaborating. Will not the habit of 
thought thus induced fit them better for their after hfe in the 
world ? Or is it our object to train them all either to be tjrpical 
imitators, characterless units of a mob, or to follow the occupa- 
tion of being " in business on their own " ? As the combined 
movements of several dancers are knit up into a figure of the 
dance, or the several soundings of the string and wind instru- 
ments together compose the concerted orchestra, so may the 
common laboiu-s of the playboys together bring about what no 
one of them could compass alone. Combined effort and corporate 
discipline are familiar on the plajdng-field. Such things have 
<!ome naturally into being there because the business in hand 
is action. Combined effort and corporate discipline will never 
be possible in the classroom tmtil the master relinquishes the 
sole command, and until the boys are permitted to undertake 
some parts of their course of learning in an active form. 

A master must of course understand boys. But it is not 
enough for him to understand boys in a general way. He must 
know the particular boys now imder his guidance, and, so far 
as in him lies, regard everything from their point of view. 
In order to be on friendly terms with his boys it is not enough 
for a master to mix with them in a condescending manner. 
He must join in their interests in school and out of school, 
honestly and heartily, not with any idea of amusing the boys, 
but because he is of like passions with them. Some teachers 
are afraid that the boys may not respect them if they do not 
maintain an artificial dignity. Is it such a frail thing, then, 
the respect they inspire in their boys ? Will the boys in their 
hearts think any less of a master who confesses himself human ? 
On the playing-field, where both boys and master behave in 



a perfectly natural way, they can play together without any 
loss of dignity to either side. The sternest of schoolmasters 
can in a Rugger game butt into the very scrum with his boys. 
Why should he not be on equally good terms with them at all 
times, and frankly enjoy with them the play of the classroom 
as he does the play of the games-field ? 

If at any time you aim at giving boys play solely because 
they like it, surely your very presence will be apt to dull their 
enjojrment. The play that celebrates a relaxation of authority 
cannot be enjoyed under the eye of authority. Therefore 
there is a type of play (out of school) in which a master has no 
place. There will always be play of sheer exuberance, " letting 
off steam," the expression of animal spirits. In this form 
of play mischief has no small part, and half the fun consists 
in doing what one ought not to do and taking the risk. For 
there will always be the play of the mice when the cat's away — 
be the cat never so sympathetic. 

Full opportunity should be given for this natiu-al free activity 
of children. But the play suggested as a classroom method 
is of a different kind. It is play with a purpose. But be 
careful that you do not leave all the play to the boys, and find 
yourself sole keeper of the purpose. Just as the boys must 
appreciate the purpose, so must the master appreciate the 

Though it is not necessary for the master to take an active 
part in play, yet he cannot be a playmaster imless he appreciate 
Littleman's point of view. It is evident that unless the master 
can help m the planning of games he will be imable to turn 
those games to good account in the direction of learning. In 
other words, it is useless for him to stand aside and consider 
Littleman's idea of play merely as a relaxation from the master's 
idea of work. 

In the play that goes on in the classroom while the master is 
present he must have as keen an interest as the boys themselves. 
Only in such a case can they feel that his part is genume, and 
not fear that he is "getting at them." Littleman will un- 
doubtedly feel this if the master appears in any sense to be 
pandering to his childish tastes. For the ambition to be manly 
stirs early in him— long before there is any need for him to put 


away childish things, or any wisdom in encouraging him to 
do so. With ever so Uttle untimely encouragement the man- 
instinct, which is his future strength, will overbear the child- 
instinct, which is his present glory. 

If the games-master played cricket only to amuse the boys, 
and not because he liked the game, the boys would discover 
it at once, and forthwith despise both cricket and the games- 
master. It is the same with the play of the classroom so far 
as real interest is concerned, for the master though he rarely 
takes an active share in classroom play must be in it heart and 
soul. Littleman of course knows that the presence of the 
master has a distinct influence upon the character of the play — 
he would be a poor master who hadn't — ^but any possible 
dissatisfaction felt at the presence of a grown-up playfellow 
is easily counterbalanced by the pride of having a grown-up 
fellow to play with. So much will be clear to any one who 
really knew how to play when he was a child, or who has ever 
joined in the play of children since he has grown up. But 
in the classroom of the present day you may add this considera- 
tion : The boys recognize all the time that you are the master, 
with authority to say, " These revels now are ended ; " yea, at 
a word to abolish the great globe of self-government itself; 
to require again the dead labour of common drudgery, and even 
to inflict punishment for misdemeanours occasioned or imagined 
by the state of your own nerves. 

It is indeed a pity that this spectre of Orbilius still looms 
in the background, that there is in the mind of Littleman a 
£ear, however dormant it may be, that if he is not careful the 
goblins will get him. Any day, for all he knows, the prince 
may turn back into an ogre, and the volcano erupt and break 
up the fairyland. It is, I say, a great pity, but that fact remains, 
and it perhaps helps to explain why Littleman is so ready to be 
taught in play, so willing to keep the rules, so anxious still to 

It is the blend of pleasure and duty, of freedom and direction, 
that makes the boy so prolific in those works of play, rising 
even to true lyrics and tragic drama,* which in ordinary life 
the nursery does not demand and the classroom will not allow. 
* For lyrics see Perse Playbooks, Nos. 2 and 5 ; for tragic drama, No. 3. 



As an adult you cannot hope to be a fully qualified player 
among children in the nursery, and by the same token you need 
not exercise the powers of a fully authorized master among 
children in the classroom. But if you are to qualify in any 
positive sense as a teacher of Littleman you must combine the 
qualities of both player and master. So I call you a playmaster. 

One knows of course that there are genial uncl^ who would 
not for the world interfere with nursery fun for the sake of 
bringing in some sense of reality, some matter of substance ; 
uncles home from the Front, for instance, who would stand by 
and applaud Littleman's spirited assault upon an opposing 
trench, even though in his dash and daring he ignored the 
enemy's wire defences. One knows also that there are teachers 
who would not for a fellowship permit Littleman to stir from his 
desk ; teachers hot from college who would pester Littleman 
with every device of notes, diagram, paraphrase, resum6, 
sjmopsis, and examination, without a thought of that boyish 
Interest in playing the thing, trying some active form of it, 
seeing how it works, which makes the study for him so much 
more worth the imdertaking. But the playmaster must be 
a true blend of the genial uncle and the exacting academic 
teacher. There are some characteristics of masters which, 
though they do little harm among senior pupils, really render 
a man unfit to teach little boys. Such are the haughty 
demeanour of the man whose standard for all work is nothing 
short of perfection, and who will have no mercy upon mistakes 
of any kind ; the absent-mindedness of the man whose thoughts 
are fixed all the time upon his subject, and who pays little 
regard to his pupils ; and the insensitiveness of the man who 
does not properly imderstand small boys and their feelings, 
and who is half the time at cross-purposes with them on this 
account. I fancy that this last type of failing is more common 
than we think, and that quite half the worries and troubles of 
the junior classroom arise out of a misunderstanding between 
boy and master owing to the master's lack of a nice perception, 
want of tact. 

We are confident that the Play Way system could be 
administered in such a way as to suit all boys, but we have 
never been so sanguine as to believe that it could suit all masters ; 


for many masters have already formed habits and opinions 
which it is beyond our power to influence. These teachers, 
however, do not concern us here, for they would never consent 
to join forces with us. 

One of the first qualities of a playmaster is tact. 

In view of the immaturity of his charges a playmaster must 
be a fellow of infinite tact. There is no occasion to be mawkish 
and over-tender with boys. They are hardy little rascals in 
many ways. And, in any case, one of the functions of school 
is to make them ready for the buffets of the world. But the 
boys themselves may be trusted to do enough buffeting of 
one another. The master can well leave "ragging," ridicule, 
and the whole process of " rounding off the corners " of an 
individual boy to that boy's peers. The master will be doing 
better educational service in acting as a pilot to steer each 
little iadividuality on its voyage. The waves are often trying 
for the little craft. 

A playmaster must be easy of approach and always regarded 
by the boys as a person naturally helpful. Thus they will 
not be afraid to ask questions, however childish they may seem, 
and will have no dread of making silly mistakes. One should 
never laugh at a childish misconception, nor even smile indul- 
gently, however the fault may tickle one's sense of the ridiculous. 
For although among boys there are many sturdy ones who do 
not feel a joke at the expense of their lack of knowledge, yet 
many of those who venture to suggest an answer rather than 
to ask a blunt question are the sensitive ones. And unfeeling 
ridicule, however gentle it may appear to you, often hurts them 
more than a blow. Who has not heard some blundering 
unsympathetic fool laugh aloud when a small person approaches 
him with a quiet question ? " Just listen to this," he announces 
to the crowd grinning in anticipation : " here's a fellow who 
wants to know ..." And then he gives a cruel parody of the 
timid question. The crowd being expected to laugh, laughs ; 
for crowds like to signalize their advantage over some helpless 
victim. The poor shy boy thus held up to ridicule smiles 
feebly, though be is often nearer the verge of tears than any one 



knows. That boy may never ask another question of that 

This care for a possible sensitiveness must be constantly 
exercised, even in the mildest instances of error. When a 
boy, for instance, reads such a word as Antipodes as three 
syllables — ^as any one naturally would do on meeting it for 
the first time — some jolly teachers laugh. It is such an amusing 
" howler." But after such an experience a boy may for months 
after be reluctant to read aloud. Such a feeling in the boy 
is not a softness to be knocked out of him. It is a sensitiveness 
in his nature of which due care must be taken. In our regard 
for sense we must not lose sensibility. 

I give this rather obvious question some importance because 
1 know from personal experience how real a trouble it is to a 
boy — ^and not by any means a small boy only — ^not to have at 
hand some one whom he may question on the most trifling 
matters without fear of being made to look a fool. For after all 
we must learn the very simplest things from some one. 

Can the reader remember his anxiety as a boy when he 
first went out to a dinner-party ? Can he stiU feel in the pit 
of his stomach the nervousness he felt when he had to glance 
furtively round to find out how a certain dish should be 
negotiated ? Or was my reader one of those brazen creatures 
who would have turned to the hostess and said in a loud voice, 
" What rirni food you have here ! " 

Few adults seem to reaHze the discomfort and often actual 
misery they occasion boys by taking for granted that they 
are at ease anywhere and everywhere. Dinners were bad 
enough ; but a boy's first experience of a large club, or of hotel 
life, or of taking a long journey alone, have generally been 
occasions of perspiring anxiety unless there was a tactful elder 
at hand to initiate him. 

Grown-up people quite frequently cause one another annoy- 
ance for want of a little tact in mentioning some necessary 
information. People often invite one to a homely dinner with- 
out any warning to " come as you are." The unfortunate man 
who goes in full dress and finds the company in flannels is as 
wretched as the man who turns up in a lounge suit at a full- 
dress function. And who has not been asked on sitting down 


to dinner, " Now what will you drink ? " A most tactless 
question, which prompts the almost irresistible reply, " What 
have you got ? " 

Once a young fellow knows how to eat asparagus, how to 
make use of the hall-porter, how much to tip a waiter, how to 
sleep on a train, how to pass the custom-house, and all other 
such things, he will be perfectly at ease in those things for 
ever after. But the process of discovery is often needlessly 

The reader, as I say, may have been a hardy devil-may-care 
in these and similar matters. But we are not all so gifted. 
When I was a boy I sacrificed pleasures many and many a time, 
and stayed away from gatherings of various kinds, not from 
a feeling of lasting shyness, but for fear of the opening stages, 
for lack of knowing the ropes. Actual instances of the simple 
things I feared, and the shifts I made to avoid them, would 
convince the reader at once of the good sense of this appeal. 
But I dare not give any actual instances, for fear you should 
laugh at me ! 

The way to spare young people all such distress is in the 
first place to be easy of approach, always to greet a timid 
question as though it were the most natural inquiry ; and in 
the second place to make a point of telling them exactly what 
to do whenever you think they may need the information. 

Some one may ask if this recommendation is not against 
the spirit of our educational principle, namely, that boys must 
not be pampered and spoon-fed, but allowed to gain experience 
for themselves. But a moment's thought will show that it 
is not so. These little tactful aids are a recognition of the 
small yet disconcerting difficulties any boy will meet so soon 
as he leaves the nursery. In giving him information about 
these small matters of social life you are really giving the boy 
the rudiments of self-reliance. Without some launching he 
might well fear to venture the least thing, and remain shut 
up within himself. 

Schoolmasters whose acquaintance with boys is limited 
to the classroom, where they are merely inactive students of 
some book-matter, may wonder what relevancy to education the 
foregoing paragraphs can claim. But those who know boys 



best out of school will agree that such things are intimately 
bound up with the growth of a boy's experience. Parents 
who are in the confidence of their sons wil bear me out in 

The need of instruction in these obvious matters of daily 
life is rather the concern of parents than of schoolmasters. 
But I have taken these very plain instances to point a moral. 

When wiU schoolmasters realize that, because of their 
iniquitous preoccupation with their " subjects," more than 
nine-tenths of the growth of a boy's experience is going on 
without any influence from them ? When will they realize that 
a boy is somehow, or anyhow, adjusting himself with life quite 
apart from all their school-teaching ? Because of their lack 
of sympathy and contact with a boy's real interests he is all the 
time out of their reach. Let any schoolmaster honestly con- 
sider which boys he is influencing, and he will find them to 
be those whose interests he shares, those in whose confidence 
he is, and these will not necessarily be the boys who are any 
good in his " subject." And the intimacy upon which this 
influence of his rests is for the most part an out-of-school 
companionship or understanding. A master's educational 
influence often has very little to do with the subject-matter 
of his teaching, and sometimes none whatever. 

In any case, most boys learn so httle of these precious 
school " subjects," even imder the most efficient instructor, 
that it is time teachers were shamed into more effective action 
of some kind. I would ask all teachers to remember that by 
widening a boy's boundaries you extend his reach. 

How full of meaning is our maxim that " Direct instruction 
is but a small part of all that can take place in the classroom." 
Even if the master refuses to consider an3rthing but that the 
boys must learn the lesson, how much else will nevertheless 
be taking place in their minds, which neither he nor any other 
can stop, and of which he might just as well decide to make 
use. What silent processes of growth quite unconnected with 
the classroom or the mathematical master are quietly and 
steadily going on in that bullet head of Johnny Jenkins while 
he is learning quadratic equations. And among all the multitude 
of images and thoughts which pass through the mind of young 


Dick in the course of a day, of what relative importance is it 
to him that verbs in the ablative are always feminine ? 

Scientific investigators may proceed with the study of 
psycho-physiological pedagogy imtil all that is plain has been 
made obscure, and even now those learned men are probably 
saying the same things as we are in their own way. The truth 
remains, however we arrive at it and however we state it, 
that every boy requires special treatment. A method that is 
wrought in keeping with this realization can only be administered 
by a teacher who is on intimate terms with the boys, and in 
touch with their individual needs. To be thus in the confidence 
of boys requires the constant exercise of tact. The measure 
of a teacher's sympathy is the measure of his influence, and the 
measure of his influence is the measure of his responsibility. 

The basis of educational method must be a regard for the pupil's 

Some wag has defined genius as an infinite capacity for 
making other people take pains. This is essentially the genius 
of the playmaster. The boy takes pains because his interests 
have been considered first. When the subject of study is 
given first consideration the boy finds the pains thrust upon 
him, often not unaccompanied by penalties. 

Most teachers put the subject first in their estimation, 
and give the boy second place. As a result of this, compulsion 
has to be the basis of method. Teachers will say that we 
exaggei'ate in this statement. But would the boys come to 
school at all if they had any opportunity to stay away ? How 
many of them would come back to your classes if it were open 
to them to do anything else ? Compulsion is the basis. 

If you put the boy first and subordinate all subjects to his 
needs and abilities, then you may find that, while he comes 
gladly to school and demands all kinds of learning, it is the 
subject which will then be under compulsion — ^all kinds of 
learning needed by this little fellow, all kinds of masters required, 
subjects and teachers collected by order from aJl sides for the 
service of the real educational force — ^interest. This conscrip- 
tion of subjects in the interest of the boy is a promising line of 



thought. The reader may find it tempting enough to pursue it 
for himself. 

But when we claim that the Play Way takes the interest 
of the boy as a starting-point, some teachers affect to beheve 
that by interest we mean mere amusement. This criticism 
arises either out of intentional misrepresentation, or a limited 
intelligence on the part of the critic. For it has been stated 
plainly and often that interest, in our use of the term, is that 
which you have nearest at heart, that which has your very 
being in hold. Our Play is the play of interest in this sense, 
and not the play of entertainment. 

What is the master to do, then, if he is neither to force 
a subject of study upon a boy from outside, nor yet to tempt 
him from outside with the sweet baits of pleasure ? My answer 
is this : 

He is to go straight to the interest which the boy has at 
heart. There he will find guidance for all the rest of his duty. 
That is the secret of playmastery. 

If the teacher is thus in complete and thorough sympathy 
with his pupils, under his encouragement and guidance the 
boys will find in what he gives them to do the satisfaction 
of their instincts, the exercise of their inherent powers, and 
the true expression of their natural desires. Boys thus rightly 
treated are keen to learn and to do and to be ever active-minded. 
When boys are lazy and stubborn the fault is only half their 
fault. There is something amiss between them and the teacher 
which must be set right. 

If every teacher cannot be expected to have such an under- 
standing of his boys as all this implies, then every school should 
have at least one playmaster. But surely we can all approximate 
to this true sympathy for the boys' point of view. One some- 
times hears it said, " Ah yes, how true all that is, if only 
teachers could do it." Does this mean that our school system 
must for evermore be based upon this iniquitous spoon-feeding, 
because teachers as a body are unfit to do anything else ? Let 
us not be so modest. 


Under a natural system of education there can be no absolute 
standard of discipline. Bight behaviour is a relative condition 
to be determined by its appropriateness to the occasion. 

A playmaster should give his pupils all the space and freedom 
they can possibly make good use of. If the right comes worthily 
from his hands it will not be abused. There need be no fear 
that, once a meadow is thrown open, nothing but leap-frog and 
horse-play will follow. That is the fear of those who are accus- 
tomed to see the coarse outburst of spirits fermented by un- 
natural restraint. The healthy body is moderate. 

The practice of self-government of all kinds should be 
encouraged, both in the individual that he may learn respon- 
sibility for his own actions and form for himself a body of 
right habits, and in the community that they may build up a 
system of good order based on mutual understanding. Every 
boy should grow early accustomed to coromand without a trace 
of domineering and to obey without a taint of servility. 

If a boy asks " Why ? " after the order " You must," he may 
not be questioning authority, but seeking a reasoned adjustment 
with it. In any case the retort, " Because I say so," is enough 
to anger any one into rebelHon. Prompt obedience should 
certainly be exacted ; but the reason for the giving of an order 
should always be understood. If teachers would honestly 
bear this in mind they would soon observe how many orders 
they give out of the habit of their imquestioned authority 
for which no reasonable defence can be foxind. Such are the 
perpetual injunctions to " Sit still." Why ? To sit still for 
a protracted period is not only quite a feat for Littleman, but 
it is usually quite imnecessary. 

That " sit-stillery " is a useful accomplishment is not 
denied. But it is not nearly of such general utUity as teachers 
imagine. Learning how to move is of inuneastu-ably greater 
importance than learning to sit still. In all natural life, for 
one moment of apparent stillness there are milhons of active 
movements. A child who is left to profit by experience will 
soon learn when to be still, when to move, and even how to move, 
in due accordance with the need of the occupation he is engaged 



The narrow outlook to which most teachers have restricted 
themselves has limited the word " discipline " in its school 
sense to that particular form of restraint which means the 
inhibition of active movement. But there is an appropriate 
discipline for every aspect of life, mental and bodily. 

The question is too wide for present discussion, and in any 
case the classroom imposes obvious limitations. But, in 
passing, teachers may be recommended to make less fuss over 
" sit-stUlery," to allow natural movement, and, in allowing 
it, to pay some attention to the fitness, aptness, and beauty of 
movement — ^in a word, to rhythm. 

Tn all effective action the amoimt of muscular force exerted 
is more than would be necessary for the mere execution of the 
action, but this strong force has to be controlled and guided 
by a complementary muscular restraint equally strong. Over- 
restraint will render action ineffective as easily as will lack of 
restraint. One hears so much on this imnatural system of 
boys being told to restrain themselves. But, if you will believe 
me, under natural conditions they quite as often need encourage- 
ment to let themselves go. 

Teachers often sigh after some sense of corporate respon- 
sibility among a group of boys. It is the easiest thing in the 
world to set afoot if you go the right way about it. Boys 
can readily understand and effectively carry out a corporate 
discipline. But the master and the boys cannot both rule 
at one and the same moment. If the master rules continuously, 
then he must not look for any sense of responsibihty in the boys 
— ^for he grants them no responsibihty. 

Even a little boy can appreciate for himself the meaning 
of individual mental discipline, self-control. 

The following instances will probably surprise the reader 
who has had no experience of boys other than that of so many 
honey-pots to be stored with the sweets of learning : 

Form Ila (average age under 12|) used to have Stick- 
wagging (that is, the group-recital of poems in play) in the 
second morning period, and Speeches in the fourth period, 
for it had seemed advisable to put at the end of the morning 
a lesson in which all the boys but one were resting, and listening 
to an interesting lecture. But fatigue, from which all little boys 


suffer after two or three hours of lessons, soon made itself fel 
in the Speeches. The speakers had not the requisite grip o 
their subject-matter. They were not fresh. Their deliver; 
showed hesitation ; and the er and hum-and-ha, common t< 
adult lecturers, which the Littlemen were so proud to havi 
abolished, came in again. The frequency of the hammer-rap ' 
became unbearable. 

" What is the matter ? " I protested. 

" He keeps saying er," replied the hammer-boy. 

" But as a rule he does not hesitate." 

" No, sir, but we always used to have Speeches in the seconc 
period. It's much harder to speak well at the end of the mominj 
I found it so myself just now." Observe that correction an( 
criticism were in the right hands, for the hammer-boy kne^ 
from experience the precise conditions of the speaker he wa 
correcting. Yet for all his knowledge of the difficulties he wouk 
not abate a rap of his requirement. 

" What is yoTU" opinion ? " I asked the lecturer. 

" I don't feel I'm speaking very well," he replied, " bu 
then, you see, the class is not attending properly, and tha 
makes a difference." 

The obvious reply would have been that it was the speaker' 
business to hold their attention. But that would have been i 
shallow observation — one of those unthinking retorts so cleverh 
used by teachers. The truth of comrse was that the fatigue o 
the speaker and the fatigue of the class reacted upon one another 
When a master addressing the class imder like conditions find 
the same difficulty, would it not be more fair and honest dealin| 
for him to say, " I know you are tired. Perhaps I am no 
claiming your attention so firmly as I might, because, I suppose 
I am tired too. But let us all make an effort to do ourselve 
justice in the last lap." 

There is a jolly chorus to a folk singing-game which ends 

I'll do all that ever I can 
To push the business on. 

And if schoolmasters were not obsessed with the indefensible 
notion that method in teaching is a kind of trade secret, the} 

♦ A rap of a little hammer is used for current criticism. 

D 4! 


might take Littleman openly into their confidence and shape 
with him the inspiration of those lines. Instead, they visit 
their •wrath upon the unfortunate boys, whether the fault be 
in the time-table, or in the weather, or in the enforced dullness 
of the subject, or merely in the state of their own health. I do 
not of course claim inununity from this condemnation for myself. 
We are all in the same box, and that box is the classroom. 

The Littlemen and their master agreed to change the lessons 
about, to hold Speeches in the second period and to put Stick- 
wagging in the last. Stick-wagging is our active play-method 
of reciting poems in chorus. Many of the poems have developed 
into games, and with some of them are associated toys such as 
cats, birds, and ships. Many voice inflexions and modulations 
are heard in the chorus recital, sticks are waved, the little 
ship sails in a dish of water, the cat pounces upon the bird, 
and the boys make expressive gestures of all kinds. There is 
need for the master or the boy-conductor to keep the reciters all 
together in expressive rhythm, just as an orchestra is controlled 
by the conductor. Each boy also must exercise individual 
self-control in order to take his due part — and neither more 
nor less than his due part — in the chorus-recital. If well 
done, this method of rendering poems is in itself an effective and 
beautiful art form. 

Well, when we put Stick-wagging as the last lesson of the 
morning the recital gained tremendously in life and gusto, 
but the boys exaggerated their expressive effects. The bangs 
and dnun-taps and shouts which were part of the poems were 
overdone, and the "Hark, hark. Bow-wow," and "Cock-a- 
diddle-dow " of the Ariel song were rendered with such vigour 
as to spoil all sense of art in the recital. Also the raps of the 
hammer-boy interrupted every opening bar. " Start together" 
he insisted. No one who saw those lessons could deny that we 
all enjoyed every minute of the time, and that we did some 
exceedingly good work. But from a director's or teacher's 
point of view there was an uncomfortable looseness about the 
whole business. There was not enough conscious discipline 
for art. The thing wanted pulling together. 

Once after a particidarly energetic rendering of " Hunting " * 
• See Perse Playbooks, No. 8. 


I observed, " You boys were too tired to make good speeches 
at the end of a morning and yet you seem always to have more 
vigour than is required for the play-songs. How is it," I asked, 
" that you Littlemen make more noise, and seem to be more 
full of energy when you are tired ? " 

The question was too much for most of the small people. 
But presently a quiet boy of eleven, who never, I think, can 
have made a noise in his life, said, " Isn't it because the more 
tired you are the less you can control yourself, and so you 
keep letting yourself go ? " I agreed that it was so. 

When freedom and ease are necessary for the forwarding 
of the business in hand, then freedom and ease must of course 
be permitted by the playmaster. During many lessons the 
playboys have been allowed to " unsit," that is, to attend in 
any comfortable attitude. Many sit on the desks or the 
windowsills and dangle their legs. Others stand about the 
room in easy postures. The only criticism made is of ungainly 
positions, or of those prejudicial to health. A Littleman 
sitting in comfort, or standing at ease and giving all his attention 
to a speech or a play which is going on, is often an unconsciously 
beautiful figure. It is some such easy standing posture as this 
which I should choose for a statue of Littleman. And of the 
same boy sitting in the stocks with his arms folded, I would 
make a cartoon to the perpetual shame of the repressionist 

It has been said that boys have sometimes actually to 
be persuaded to let themselves go. This of course is mainly 
seen in connexion with acting and the other forms of play 
which are full of movement. But the reader will not by this 
time be likely to imagine that the play-method sets order, 
quietness, and systematic discipline at naught. On the contrary, 
play-methods in the classroom demand a far more rigorous 
attention to systematic order and true discipline than do the 
dead conditions of pedant rule. But in connexion with what 
business soever, you cannot get so real a discipline by coercion 
as you can by relying on the goodwill of the company and 
their recognition of what is required for the matter in 

There must be in your playmaster a spice of the drill-sergeant. 


J.XXJK jc u x^. 1. »Tn.x 

He must be exacting of precision. But there is not so much 
need of severity as there is of stimulus and encouragement. 
Enthusiasm will do more than bullying, and a quiet insistence 
is more forcible than shouting. The boys can be brought to 
take a pride in their corporate discipline. They can be made 
to feel that there is a distinct joy and beauty in precision of 
movement and in absolute trim, just as there is in rhythmical 
motion, or dancing in time. 

In Greek education — ^but let us not for shame pursue that 
line. The glory that was Greece is represented in the schools 
of to-day as an ancient language to be studied, nothing more. 

A play-method is designed to make leisure valuable and 
labour light. Sincerity of purpose will dignify the merest 
hobby, and interest will lighten the severity of deep study. 
Wrongly applied, a play-method can as easily spoil a good game 
by requiring too much care as it can render a serious under- 
taking of no account by admitting too much wantonness. 

When order, silence, and discipline are required then the 
playboys know how to observe the strictest order, the dead 
silence, and a discipline that is really a living and potential 
thing. Have you really considered that discipline is not an 
absolute necessity, but a relative one — a potential condition? 
There is no strain about this silence and calm. The master 
whose class gives him the perfect discipline of a ready trust 
finds the boys responsive to his touch, not struggling against 
his rule, nor sunken into sulks, but quietly alert and ready, 
" awaiting but the signal to begin." Among teachers, only 
a playmaster in thorough accord with his boys can know what 
it means to have one's finger on the pulse of life. 

These maxims of the Play Way, and discourses in explication 
of them, might be continued indefinitely. But it should not be 
necessary to go on. Those who have not been stimulated 
by what has already been said to work out particulars of 
method for themselves would not be persuaded or convinced by 
anything more in the way of argument or exposition which 
might be written here. For a player, Uke a poet, must he 
born before he can be made. For the born player there is no 
doubt of the main question. It is answered in his very being. 
And as for those who are not players, well, we wish them good 


luck in their arduous ways. It is of no avail to quarrel and 
get angry with one another over these things. If you are 
bom a cat and I am bom a dog, then I shall no more be able 
to persuade you to be canine than you will find it possible 
to convert me to felinity. 

If a disputant offer criticism, and cavil at details, he may 
help you to amend ; but if he deny the principle upon which 
your whole action is based, the principle you were bom to 
believe, then his criticism is not positive in any sense for you, 
but negative entirely, and you must let such words go by you 
as the idle wind which you respect not, for they are a very 
denial of the faith to which you owe adherence. 

The minds of men are not at bottom subject to mere whim, 
but are moved constantly, though most often without their 
knowledge, in pursuit of one aim. It is predisposition, the 
inherent cast of mind, that in the long run gives us to agree 
or disagree with any given thesis. That is why a man convinced 
against his will is of the same opinion still. We are horn to 
believe this or that (unless we are bom without brain enough to 
beheve positively and intelligently in anything). Against this 
predisposition or settled habit of mind logic is of no avail. 
No appeal, however reasonable, wins through the ear when the 
mind is shut, for man is a creature not guided by reason but 
by prejudice — " is either a little Liberal or else a little Con- 

To be thus in earnest, then, as we are in the views expressed 
in this book — ^to have one's feet thus planted on a rock of 
certainty — does not come of having accepted a doctrine after 
logical consideration, but it comes of innate belief; for the 
springs of human action lie not in the reasoned intention of 
the individual, but in the intuition of man's mind, in the gathered 
energy of inherited tendency and communicated desire. And 
so this expression of an educational ideal will ultimately appeal 
only to those who already feel an answer to it within them- 




The baby figure of the giant mass 
Of things to come at large. 

" Troilus and Cressida " 

The subject of self-government is here treated in two parts. 
The first part deals with discipline and the charge of affairs 
in the hands of boys. The second discusses an aspect ol 
teaching rarely considered in connexion with self-government, 
and too often neglected altogether — ^namely, the individual 
boy's government of himself, and his responsibility for his 
own learning. The question of self-government in discipline 
is treated from a purely practical point of view, and a few 
experiments are described. But the wider aspects of the 
subject are dealt with in connexion with individual responsibility. 

We need not spend much time in arguing the case in favour 
of giving self-government to boys in school. The subject 
has been discussed in theory often enough. It is one of the 
cardinal tenets in most proposed reforms of educational 
method. So we may presimie that if teachers have not by 
now adopted some form of self-government with their boys, 
it is either because they are not convinced of its value or because 
they are still waiting to be shown how to set about it. 

Those teachers who are not convinced that self-government 
is a natural and necessary part of school administration need 
not detain us now. But those of us who do believe in the 
principle must put it into practice from now onwards, consistently 
and whole-heartedly, so that the new tradition of freedom may 
soon get a firm hold upon our schools, and remain rooted there. 
The method of teaching which consists of spoon-feeding under 
repression — overriding the natural habits and desires of boys 


so that they may be crammed with instruction in certain 
subjects — ^is already discredited. Few defend the old system 
now. The most you will hear from the old-fashioned pedant 
is a querulous complaint that he is not a pedant. And the 
harshest of disciplinarians now feels it necessary to justify 
his severity. The spirit of freedom is strong enough to make 
every one profess adherence to it. 

But, as we all know, spoon-feeding and repression go on as 
before, and the classroom system upon which all schools are run, 
is still based upon these twin demons of futility. 

The practice of education reforms itself very slowly, partly 
because all men find it easier to continue in bad ways than to 
amend them according to their better lights, and partly because 
the schoolmaster in particular has so little outside pressure 
to keep him up to the scratch. The only thing required of 
most schoolmasters is that they should dodder on in the same 
old way. 

Apart from a few foundations recognized as progressive 
or experimental, school as we know it to-day is a gigantic 
humbug. Reformers for the most part have been afraid to fall 
upon this ancient fraud itself, and have gone aside to found 
little modem schools of their own or merely to become a voice 
in the wilderness. But those who earnestly desire to see 
an immediate reform of school method would be well advised to 
stay in their present schools, and begin the reform from inside. 
This will, of course, mean for the present the restriction of all 
their ideas to fit the limitation of the classroom. Periods of 
forty minutes in a room full of desks with twenty-five boys 
(and in elementary schools often double that number) do not 
offer any great scope for any one whose ideas of education 
embrace wider activities than reading, writing, and figuring. 
But much can be done under such limitations ; and it is in the 
hope of their being of some service as hints that the following 
experimental devices have been described. 

When a teacher is set down to conduct lessons in a certain 
subject at stated times he cannot of course give the boys 
much freedom of choice. If the school time-table says 
" Arithmetic," then arithmetic it must be, and any teacher 
whose ideas of self-government should go so far as to allow 



the boys to do anything else in that period would be failing 
in his duty to the school. But when your subject is a wide 
one, such as " English " for example, it should be possible 
to include many various activities. If the authorities who 
are responsible for the scheme of work insist on drawing up a 
rigid syllabus for you, stating that one period shall be given to 
dictation, one to reading aloud, one to parsing, one to learning 
verses by heart and so on, then I admit you are done for. There 
is nothing for it but to abandon your ideas or abandon the school. 
But in many schools to-day a responsible subject-teacher is 
given a reasonably free hand within the periods devoted to that 
subject, and can apportion the time among the different phases 
of his work to suit his own intentions. 

But with only three or four periods a week in which to teach 
all that goes by the name of English, where are you to find 
time for the practice of self-government ? Our plan was to 
set up some kind of governing system, and then let it run 
concurrently with the subject-study. The master need not 
always be teaching, the boys can conduct many lessons them- 
selves. Then there is the round of daily routine duties, and 
these also can be entrusted to the boys. Finally, there is the 
maintenance of discipline — ^for discipline in an active community 
does not run itself, it has to be maintained — and this also can 
safely be left in the hands of the boys. Let us, then, take these 
opportunities for self-govenment, and consider them from a 
practical point of view. 

One of the first essentials of self-government is the election 
of a body of officials. Some portion of the school-time may 
at first be set aside for this government business, but once it is 
firmly set afoot the boys may be willing to transact these 
affairs in their own time. As a beginning it is well to ask the 
company to suggest posts to which they will presently elect 
officials. A chief is necessary, and him we call the Prime 
Monitor. Sometimes he chooses his own cabinet, and sometimes 
the whole committee is elected by the citizens. One monitoi 
will be responsible for the homework, another will take charge 
of the acting of a play, a third will see that the classroom is 
kept tidy, and so on. The cabinet makes rules and regulations 
for the conduct of debates, settles the responsibilities of monitors 


and the duties of the citizens, and may (if you decide so) even 
impose penalties for misdemeanours. The power vested in 
the cabinet has varied from time to time, but one of the most 
interesting experiments was when the boys of the third form 
had complete control, not only of discipline, but of all their 
schoolwork in English. "The Jimior Republic of Form 
Illb " (average age about thirteen) held sway for two whole 
terms, much to the joy of the playboys, and entirely to my 
own satisfaction. The House at first divided on the question 
of Prose and Verse. The books to be studied during the 
term had already been chosen by myself. There was a book of 
ballads, and an anthology of poems, and, for prose, a collection 
of essays. "When the Verse party were in power they conducted 
lessons only in verse subjects. When they were thrown out 
we had only prose for a time. In reality the boys had a fairly 
equal interest in all the books, but they had to divide on some- 
thing as a beginning, imtil actual practice of self-government 
should reveal a more genuine and less artificial difference of 
opinion. And, as a matter of fact, though prose or verse were 
in equal favour for readiag, many of the boys had a decided 
preference for making ballads and poems as homework instead of 
writing prose compositions. The debates held on the relative 
merits of prose and verse were naturally rather feeble. But 
the real interest centred in matters of administration. The 
Verse government would be defeated by the opposition, not 
because the majority of the class felt an urgent desire to study 
prose, but because under a vote of censure they had been 
foimd guilty of slackness in certain duties, and were consequently 
held to have forfeited the confidence of the community. One 
government went out because its Homework Monitor had failed to 
set the homework one night. He protested that every one knew 
what he would have set, and therefore every one ought to have 
learnt it. But certain members of the opposition boldly asserted 
that they had done no homework simply because no homework 
had been set. So the leader of the opposition was able to score a 
telling point, and he made it very plain to the Prime Monitor that 
under his administration the class was not doing all it should do, 
and was not even given a chance of doing its duty. So the vote 
of censure was passed and the opposition formed a government. 



The boys were really anxious to show that they could 
work properly without any need of compulsion. Every one 
enjoyed the game of debates and voting. But once when a 
certain section nominated the stupidest boy in the form foi 
some ojBBce, just for the fun of the thing, the prominent leaders 
on both sides were very angry. They said precisely what anj 
master would have said — ^namely, that fun was all very well, 
and they hoped the debates would continue to be conducted 
with good humour. But if any one thought he could turn the 
whole thing into a " rag " by setting up " Aunt Sally candidates " 
then he would soon find himself mistaken. " It is no good 
doing the thing at all," they said, " if you can't do it properly." 

The case as put b^ another speaker against tomfoolery 
was that, if the practice of self-government degenerated into 
a " rag," Mr. Cook would abolish the Republic, and they 
would all return to ordinary lessons. Which was true, I 
suppose, for school conditions would have required that action 
on my part. Yet I am convinced that even without arty fear 
of a higher authority stepping in with a threat of abolition, 
public opinion among a group of boys would ensure an earnest 
respect for order. The majority would be in favour of serious- 
ness and would keep the " raggers " in hand. The experience 
of other teachers who have had fuller opportunities for putting 
this to the test bears out my opinion. But this seriousness of 
purpose can only be expected on one condition : there must be 
something to be serious about. 

In those little communities which are entirely run on self- 
government lines, such as the Junior Republics in the United 
States and The Little Commonwealth down in Dorset, the 
driving-power which makes the citizens conduct their affairs 
seriously is real social necessity ; for what is not done by the 
citizens for themselves in the way of rule is not done at all. 
They must earn their own living, and therefore cannot be 
idle ; they must safeguard their possessions and their peace, 
and therefore must uphold the law and punish wrongdoers. 
I am one of those who believe that all schools should be run 
as far as possible on such a genuine system of self-government. 
But while we are confined to the classroom, and our main efforts 
are devoted to the study of some subject imposed, it is obvious 


that we are not living under natural conditions governed by neces • 
sity, and so we must find some other central force, some other 
driving-power. There must be some artificiality here, for there is 
no getting away from the fact that it is not a necessity for a boy 
to learn, for instance, a play of Shakespeare. What then shall we 
devise of equal power to claim the boys' serious interest, to gain 
their goodwill and enlist their whole-hearted co-operation ? 

The answer is. Play. The subjects to be learnt must be 
presented in an interesting way, and then the boys will have 
a natural desire to do the work. They will work well imder 
free conditions partly out of sheer enjoyment and partly for 
fear of losing these rights. 

As regards discipline during lessons, I know that many a 
teacher's time and temper are wasted away because of his 
endeavour to enforce an unnatural discipline, when it should 
be obvious that the only discipline worth having is a natural 
one got by interest and habit. The play-method not only does 
require order and attention, but for its efficient working demands 
that higher discipline which is habitual and has become so 
by the operation of interest. To subject the will to perform 
subordinate duties mechanically, leaving the thinking part 
a free agent, is one of the conditions that make possible the 
intellectual life of man. If every small act of daily life demands 
attention every time, if self-control is always to be conscious, 
men could never rise above the level of machines. The discipline 
maintained by a ruling fear or by the immediate imposition of an 
outward authority (" yoxir eye on the class ") is but a rigor mortis; 
the free, self-government kind of discipline is simply a necessary 
condition of Play. It is the rule of the game, and a sense of fair- 
play. If you have it not you are merely drilling your class. 

That is how you enlist their co-operation in the classroom. 
It is, I hope, unnecessary to insist that the freedom postulated 
is freedom from hampering conditions, not freedom from 
doing the work. Yet some people have spoken to me in criticism 
of the Play Way as though it meant abandoning work for play, 
and letting the dear boys amuse themeslves instead of bothering 
their little heads with learning ! * 

* Of course it is on these lines that the Play Way will always be 
criticized. We have answered the criticism time and again in these pages. 



The Junior Republic of Form Illb, then, settled down tc 
do good work and to maintain good discipline. I once went 
away to Oxford for a day without making arrangements foi 
any one to take their lessons. One master looked in, but they 
begged him not to stay. As they grew in practice they foimd 
their real differences very few, and gradually ceased to make 
opposition for the mere sake of it. They got over party politics 
as a puppy gets over distemper, for the simple reason that the 
whole body was working to achieve a healthy system. 

It is important to state at this point that although the 
" politics " side of this self-government experiment interested 
the boys at first it gradually fell out of favour. The speeches, 
elections, and parliamentary business generally had very little 
practical educational value at any time. I never expected 
them to have much. The value expected of this self-govemmeni 
scheme lay in the school work done by the boys under theii 
own officers, and in the hearty spirit of freedom which informed 
that work ; and not in the election of the officers or the passing 
of votes of censure. The boys after a time felt this themselves, 
and in every class with which I tried a system of self-govern- 
ment the same thing happened. The boys felt unconsciouslj 
that all this political business was an artificiality, and after one 
term or so politics generally fell through. 

I will confess now that I was often disheartened at sue! 
happenings, though at the time I would not confess as mud 
even to myself, for very fear of killing belief. It seemed tc 
me that even in the stupid old classroom self-govemmen1 
ought to be possible, so I made it a point of honour to set afoo1 
some form of self-government in every class that came into mj 
hands. In the end I saw that this faith was justified. Bui 
■ before showing how, I will relate the story of a most dishearten 
ing experience : 

The form was a certain Ila, average age about twelve anc 
a half, and the best form I ever had. Other masters agreec 
at the time that the school had never had such a group of boys 
More than half of them were distinctly able, the kind of bo] 
who is found in twos and threes at the top of most classes 
All but a few were very wilUng to try their best, and, whethe 
clever or stupid, they were all good fellows. They had beei 


in charge of their own affairs for a whole year, but under various 
play-schemes (such as a band of knights), and not on the 
parliamentary system. For a term or so the parliamentary 
system ran its course, governments rose and fell. Prime Monitors 
and their cabinets, " dressed in a little brief authority," held 
sway for a time and then were defeated. But in the end there 
was a motion put forward and support:ed by a powerful body 
of opinion, not for the defeat of one government or another, 
but actually for the abolition of self-government itself. You 
may imagine with what feelings I heard that motion stated. 
It was the most hotly contested fight we ever had in the school. 
It was certainly true that the cabinet in power was very weak, 
but that was not a sufficient reason for doing away with cabinets 
altogether. There was one boy in the class who had made a 
perfect Prime Monitor, though as it happened he was the 
youngest of them all. In his time of power he had been most 
efficient, and had insisted upon his colleagues carrying out all 
their duties properly. Moreover he could control the class with 
A word. The party now in power, finding a strong move- 
ment afoot for the abolition of self-government, invited this 
boy to come and lead them. The Prime Monitor (himself a 
boy very good at aU his work, but no leader) pointed out rather 
pathetically that his own failure need not bring about the 
downfall of self-govenment itself. And there and then he 
resigned, and nominated Sir Pelinore as his successor. But 
Sir Pelinore refused to stand. He kept his own coimsel, and 
never declared either for the abolition of self-government or 
for its continuance. But the fact was plain, that if Sir Pelinore 
declined to take command, the whole fabric would topple 
down in ruin. The No-government party became clamorous, 
and in despair the other side, who still had a shaky majority, 
set up a totally untried fellow, who, though not remarkable for 
ability, was big. His adherents spoke brave words about 
a strong right arm, and implied that here was a Dictator. 
But at the hour of dismissal, when the class should have remained 
sitting still until homework and other business had been trans- 
acted and they had the Prime Monitor's leave to go, one member 
of the No-government party rose from his place coolly (though 
p ale with anger and excitement) and strolled out. The wretched 



dictator told him peremptorily to sit down. But his rule was 
ignored, and so another anti-government member made tc 
walk out. Then this Prime Monitor, vaunted by his adherents 
for strength of arm, stepped between this second defiant and the 
door. And I sat watching, and wondered if government would 
descend to a trial of brute force. But he of the strong arm was 
weak to command, and the second defiant walked out. Others 
followed him. Fortunately no one appealed to me. But it 
had been clearly established long ago by Sir Peliaore that a 
boy's rule which rested on the master's authority and could 
be enforced at his command was no self-government at all. 
So I was a mere onlooker. Having seen enough I also walked 
out, remarking to the dejected Prime Monitor that he had 
better take some measures for the morrow, before dismissing his 
adherents and what remained of the class. 

The Prime Monitor who had lately resigned had a long 
and excited tale to tell his mother ; and from her I had it 
afterwards. He maintained that the one thing needed was a 
strong Prime Monitor, who had the confidence of the class and 
could manage his cabinet and keep them efficient. So he laid all 
the blame for the cataclysm upon Sir Pelinore, who had refused 
to come from his retirement and step into the breach. 

Meanwhile great excitement prevailed at the School House, 
for it happened that three or fom* of the malcontents were 
boarders there. The wretched dictator, he of the strong 
arm, was also a member of the School House ; and before the 
evening was out the agitators had converted him to their 
point of view and made him promise to resign ! A day now 
intervened on which no government business was held ; but 
both sides prepared eagerly for the coming struggle. The 
No-government party in the School House chose green as their 
colour. They had a two-handled banner made, with a design 
on it, showing the Prime Monitor's mace being severed by 
a sword-blow. I was told afterwards that the School House 
had heard little else but self-government talk throughout the 
week-end ; and one boy, usually very quiet and retiring, had 
stated repeatedly and with great emphasis, " Self-government 
must be abolished. Down with the Prime Monitor ! Mr. Cook 
shall rule over us." 


The debate when it came was excitmg, and before the end 
speeches gave way to violence. The leader of the No-govem- 
ment party began an oration, while two supporters held his 
green banner overhead. But he dared his opponents too far, 
and when he grew eloquent about the sword-blow that should 
shatter the Prime Monitor's mace, the Government party 
rushed the platform. A fight ensued in which the banner was 
destroyed ; and the supporters used the sticks of it upon their 
assailants. When order had been restored the motion was 
put to the House, " That Self-government shall be abolished." 
By a crowning jest of fate, many of the malcontent Littlemen 
voted No, thinking in their excitement that they were voting 
against self-government. So the No-govenunent party, although 
they had by now an overwhelming majority, were defeated. 
But the next division-day saw the downfall of self-government. 
So the boys thought, at all events. 

Too much importance must not be made of such incidents 
as this, but some interesting comments arise from it. The 
first is that teachers who really give their boys freedom of 
speech and action, and do not only make a pretence of it, 
must be prepared to look on and see differences of opinion 
carried to such extremes as this. If you interfere at any point 
and say, " I can't have this," then you are abolishing self- 
government in those four words. If the boys are to worry 
through on their own account, and in the end achieve some 
good working system, the teacher must give them time, and 
be patient while they work out their experiments. 

My second comment is this : The boys for all their excite- 
ment were not abolishing self-government at all, but merely the 
political or parliamentary aspect of it. The cry, " Mr. Cook 
shall rule over us," simply meant that, as Sir Reginald had 
said, the one thing needed was a strong Prime Monitor. The 
boys were tired of nagging, tired of votes of censure and an 
alinost weekly change of government. But under my rule 
the boy-officials carried out their appointed tasks as before, 
rhe only change was that I was not called a Prime Monitor, 
and that I called my cabinet a committee 1 

But while such fights as this were going on, and before 
I saw how little they really touched the principle of self- 



government among boys, I used to feel very disheartened. Let 
us then consider divisions and votes of censure and such 
machinery aboUshed, and see what it is that the boy-ofiicials 
really do in the way of self-government. The following is 
an account written a year or two ago of our experiments with 
the lowest forms : * 

The most well-ordered classes are those in which a body 
of boy officials has control. There are so many details of 
organization in the rule of a corporate body that the form- 
master who would run his class systematically must either 
spend half his time in matters of routine, to the neglect of his 
teaching, or omit some details of the necessary adn inistration. 
In the lowest forms where everything has to be sjstematized 
and done by rule, we hand over a large proportion of classroom 
administration to the boys. The youngest playboys need the 
strictest rule, but the strictest rule itself can be administered 
by the youngest playboys. In the first form you may have a 
single monitor and a number of attendant spirits. His assistants 
are responsible each in his degree for the tidiness of desks, 
the readiness of books, the opening of windows, and the boys' 
part of the scavenging. The monitor himself plays many parts. 
He pricks the late-comers and the absentees, and collects 
their excuses ; he harasses the staff for the weekly reports, 
marshals his men at need, and acts deputy in the master's 
absence. He annotmces the homework in the evening and 
collects it the next morning. All these duties are his even 
when the master is present ; and it is he who waits until the 
class is quiet before dismissing them. A form-monitor is 
appointed for his fitness, and is not always at the top of his 
class. It has proved a good plan to put in authority aged 
persons who otherwise might be in danger of doing little or 

In lib (average age under twelve) it chanced appropriately in 
connexion with our reading of " Le Morte Darthur " that certain 
boys should be knighted for single deeds of prowess or for 
general renown. Thus it happened that a certain six came to be 
Icnown as The Knightly Guard. There was the Knight Captain, 
who held supreme sway, while the rest divided among them 

♦ See Perse Playbooks, No. 4, p. 21. 


the control of the homework and the desks, and those other 
cares with which a Knight could be charged. In this form 
the oflBcers have a fuller responsibility. A Knight of the 
Guard holds a daily wapenshaw to assure himself that all have 
fit and ready their equipment of pens, ink, and paper ; and the 
Knight Captain marshals his men orderly from one room to 
another. The Knight Captain has his troubles of discipline 
just as any teacher has. But there is always perfect goodwill 
on both sides. Let us emphasize this point. 

At the end of the school day the class is restless. Perhaps 
after prayers the inefficiency of the Knight in charge of the 
homework delays dismissal. Several squires make protest, 
others volunteer information. The master simply waits. Add 
to this chatter the hum and bustle of other traffic, such as the 
collection of exercises and the packing of satchels, aggravated 
now and then by the intrusive voice of some Casca crying " Peace, 
ho ! " and you will understand that " disorder " is the only word 
to describe the condition of this perfectly weU-meaning class. 
Now the Knight Captain has a badge of office, a mace made 
by one of the Knights, consisting of a gold handle of wood 
about a foot long attached to a blue wooden ball about the size 
at a man's fist. With this the Knight Captain knocks once 
on the table, and silence immediately follows. I say that on 
the tap of the mace all traffic and bustle is suddenly suspended, 
flitting functionaries slip into their seats, and there is dead 
silence. Then at an intimation from the Kiiight Captain, 
" Homework " confesses that he cannot remember " the Maths," 
and some one is called upon to make good the deficiency. The 
homework is then properly announced ; and perhaps another 
official gives warning that certain cards are to be brought 
without fail on the morrow. Maybe the Knight Captain, 
in giving out his various notices, requests that certain boys 
remain to confer with the master about some work. Then 
he taps again. All sit breathlessly quiet while the Knight 
Captain solemnly holds aloft a pin, and then drops it. Every one 
hears the resoimding fall of the pin. Then follows a final tap 
of the mace, and off they run. Such was the daily ceremony of 
dismissal in this Form. 

In saying there is goodwill on both sides I mean that 

E Q5 


intentional noise or " ragging " is unknown between them. 
Thoughtless and undisciplined some small boys will be, but 
to " rag " the Knight Captain has never entered any one's head. 
On one evening in the week I did not appear at dismissal. 
By report I gathered that there had been some good healthy 
noise in the transaction of affairs. Busybodies and sticklers 
for accuracy delayed the class, and then " every man said his 
advice and the noise was great in the Court.' But all 
members agreed that things were getting better every week. 
My dictum would be that the noise they make is the noise 
they are learning not to make. A visitor who was present 
one evening told me : " There was a fair shindy, but they got 
all the business done and were not dismissed until there was 
absolute silence. But I should like to see any one try that 
game with our boys. They would be off in a great racket 
without waiting for the homework or any blessed pindrop ! " 

Which set of boys has been spoilt ? Those given the freedom 
and self-government of Play, or those others who are taught 
that work and play are incompatible, so that they look upon 
school as a necessary evil ? There are head masters, and even 
assistant masters, who are saying : " No play for me ; but 
strict obedience and hard work. The boys shall do what I 
wish. Give them their heads indeed ! Life's not a game, sir, 
or a joke, if that's what you mean with your ' Play.' The 
great fault of this age is to be casual, to take things easily. 
But I'll knock the slackness out of these loafers. I'll make 'em 
sit up." * When I hear this I think that life is indeed a very 
good joke, and most laughable^ 

Although the boys when left to worry things out for them- 
selves soon find the party game artificial and imsatisfying, 
they never tire of taking charge of real affairs. There are a 
hundred details of class administration which one is able with 
perfect confidence to leave in their hands. One relies on the 
assurance that a little thing is often better done by some one 
who considers it no small matter, but one of the weighty 
responsibilities of office. And the official duties are not always 
trivial by any means. The librarian's office, for instance, is 

* This, I fear, sounds very coarse ; but the words are those of s head 
master of a secondary school as quoted to me by one of his assistants. 


Qo sinecure, for books are constantly being borrowed from the 
shelves, and he alone is responsible for their return. It may take 
him a week to trace a borrowed volume that has gone from hand 
to hand unregistered. The official who is responsible for the 
collection of written exercises has also an important task. 
Even on the old cut-and-dried homework system, where the 
same exercise was set overnight for the whole class, and collected 
on the morrow, it was not always easy to get all the exercises 
delivered punctually. And homework with us generally consists 
of half a dozen different types of work on the same day, such 
as prose studies, ballads, chap-books, and ilonds. Some of 
these take several nights to complete, and need not be presented 
every morning. Such things as this complicate the duties of 
tiie official. 

The word " official " did not please us long, and none of 
the words in common use, such as " monitor," " prefect," 
" captain," " director," " manager," seemed to us fitly to 
describe the boy-official-in-charge-of-the-lesson. So I introduced 
the word Mister. The word is a coinage, but it is coined of 
sterling metal. The word " mistery " still exists (though now 
confounded with " mystery " and written with a "y "), and 
means a craft or occupation. The dictionary will show you 
that " mistery " is parallel with " ministry " ; so our new word 
" mister " is coined as a parallel to " minister," and means 
" the fellow in charge of the craftsman-players." " Mister " 
is not pronounced like " Mr." but as though it were written 
" mist^re " and pronounced with a thoroughly English accent. 

The teacher who has permitted self-government in his 
classes, on whatever system, must be careful not to interfere 
when interference is not necessary. Force of habit may cause 
the teacher on entering the room to say to the homework mister, 
" Collect the homework. Jack." 

"Yes, sir," says Jack, and begins to do so. But he pos- 
sibly remarks, " I intended to collect them after the lesson." 
That means that Master Jack is a little hurt, look you, and 
justifiably so. 

Even while conducting a lesson myself, asking a series 
of questions or expounding some matter to the class, I have 
found it feasible to leave the responsibility for order and 



quietness in the hands of the chief monitor. You may think 
that the boys could hardly be disorderly while a master with 
any disciplinary power at all is actually addressmg them. 
But the Play Way methods are nearly always stimulating. 
Questions are asked in such a way that (theoretically) every one 
is anxious to answer at once. A matter is expounded in such 
a way that, even while the master is speaking, half the class 
is bursting with questions, and the other half bursting to tell 
the master what he apparently doesn't know or has chanced 
to overlook. There is a liveliness about such lessons, an 
effervescence, which is most heartening. It is possible, of 
course, for the master at the same time to keep the class as 
lively as this and to keep them in hand. In reality he has them 
in hand all the time. But there are good reasons in poetry 
and in composition lessons why he should confine himself to 
stimulating the boys, and leave the mister to keep them within 

One of my friends affirms that such a live condition of the 
class would kill him in a week. During the lessons when he 
himself is teaching he will not allow one boy to fidget with 
a pen or to finger his ink-pot. He says it gets on his nerves. 
So while he roams about the room, waves a pointer, or does as 
he will with his hands, the boys must sit still and forget they 
have hands at all. Of course it is just a matter of what the 
teacher sets himself to do. If you demand dead silence, a 
little clicking noise may easily drive you frantic ; but it is 
wiser always to be prepared for just a little more noise than 
the class is hkely to make. Thus, so far from having to crush 
the signs of interest and energy, you are always expecting 

But of course no gratuitous noise need be allowed, and 
no show of spirit cotmtenanced, that is not clearly directed 
to the advancement of the work in hand. The mister can 
look after this while the master teaches. 

Again, if it should be necessary for the master to speak 
when a lesson is nmning itself, or when the class is dispersing 
after a lesson, he could of coiurse cry " Silence." But it is 
equally effective and more in keeping with the self-government I 
principle for him to turn to the mister and say, " Get me a ' 


silence." Then the mister taps with his mace, and the class 
is attentive. 

These suggestions will appear not only ridiculous but 
shocking to many teachers, but they are only addressed to those 
who have already instituted some form of self-government 
in their classes. 

Sometimes when teaching a self-governing class of which 
I was not the form-master, I have put both the mister and all his 
men on their mettle, and instantly obtained model behaviour 
simply by observing, "The discipline of this class seems to 
be rather weak." 

If, owing to shortness of time or for any other reason, a 
teacher is disinclined to allow the institution of a cabinet, 
or any body of officials, he should nevertheless have at least 
one mister at all times. This mister should be elected by the 
class, but if one boy, and one boy only, seems fitted for the 
office the teacher may deem it wise to appoint him. The 
advantages of having a mister are many. He represents not 
only all that was represented by a " form monitor " in our day, 
but a great deal more. He will perform for the master aU the 
duties which a company sergeant-major performs for an officer. 
A good mister is one's right-hand man, and can be a very busy 
little person, I once had the same boy as my mister for a whole 
year. The committees in charge of various lessons, such as 
Speeches, Shakespeare Acting, Chorus Recital of Poems, and the 
rest, changed from time to time, though this boy held a prominent 
place in most of them. And when the class for a time ceased 
to bother about electing committees he remained as my ever- 
ready assistant. He was a very quiet boy, and did not enjoy 
the position for the sake of any opportunity it might afford 
for officiousness or showing off. On the contrary, he was too 
retiring altogether, and could not be persuaded ever to act a 
part in any play or even to make a speech during lecture-lessons. 
Perhaps some measures should have been taken to make him 
come into the open, since so much of the class-work was active 
and oral. But he was by no means idle during these lessons, 
nor did he lose the value of whatever was being done, for the 
administration of the whole affair was always in his hands. It 
was he who found the speakers, or did the stage-management. 



And when these little boys performed a play in the school 
theatre it was the mister who saw that the clothes were put 
away in the right places after each of the many rehearsals. 
It was the mister who helped them to dress, handed each his 
properties as he required them, and ran all the business behind 
the curtain and in the tiring-house, without a master's assistance. 
Only he who has had to act as manager, producer, dresser, and 
general nurse to some twelve or fifteen boy-players of twelve 
years old can appreciate the magnitude of this feat for a boy. 
But this boy would never appear in public. His was really 
an extreme case, and it was obvious that the little good he would 
get from acting a part now and then, or making a few isolated 
speeches imder urgent entreaty, or even under pressure, would 
be more than counterbalanced by the acute distress he would 
feel all the time. For it was plain that such reluctance to 
appear pubUcly would never wear off even if he should be 
compelled to appear every day. After all, he certainly knew 
what he could do, and he gave the community a more thorough 
service than any other boy I have known. It is important 
to state, too, that as he found more and more scope Lq the 
charge of affairs his other work in Enghsh showed a distinct 
improvement, and though he was not a boy adapted for school 
studies at all, teachers of other subjects, including French, 
Arithmetic, and Nature Study, made special mention of a 
noticeable change at this time. 

In his capacity as mister there were many occasions on 
which he should have made announcements, but these he either 
persuaded another official to give out, or he pinned a notice 
on the screen, or simply asked the master to tell the class 
so-and-so. For a whole year this mister was in charge of the 
discipline of the class, and his position was never challenged 
nor his authority openly questioned. Only on two occasions 
did he report a difficulty, and in each case his judgment was 
found right. Once was when he had made a boy scavenger 
for leaving waste-paper about. The boy made no objection, 
but as his scavenging was not satisfactory the mister kept 
him at it for a second week. To this the boy objected, but 
it was not he but the mister who came to me for an opinion. 
Then the three of us in conclave came to the momentous 


decision that a scavenger must scavenge. The second occasion 
was also a matter of mitidiness. The mister always pinned up 
a list of the names of those whose desks had to be made tidy 
before the same hour of the next day. Once he added to this 
the names of two whose satchels were bulging with an accumula- 
tion of old papers, and so stuffed that nothing could ever be 
found in them when wanted. The culprits in this case protested 
that their satchels were their own concern. But when the mister 
had pointed out that the state of their satchels occasioned 
trouble for them and for him and for the master, owing to the 
temporary loss of homework and other necessary papers, they 
had to admit the justice of his case. 

This mister fulfilled many clerkly duties. For a year he 
kept the chronicles of the lectures and recorded the title of 
every lecture, the speaker's name, and the marks. This book 
has been of inestimable service for purposes of reference and 
reminder in the writing of one of these chapters. He not only 
collected weekly reports from the masters (some of whom were 
busy outside the school and difficult to catch), but copied all 
these reports on to the cards ready for the form-master's 
signature. Many an administrative duty which in the rush 
of busy days a form-master (surely to the detriment of his boys) 
cannot but neglect, or at least postpone, was thus punctually 
and efficiently carried out. 

Business connected with a little school theatre often detained 
me in another building after school lessons were over. But 
the mister could always be rehed upon to see that homework 
in all subjects had been set, and to conduct an orderly dismissal. 
Dismissal by the mister can become so much the order of the day 
that the boys, when the master is there, do not regard him as 
being present for that purpose ; in fact, so long as the master 
remains in the classroom after school one boy after another will 
have some little matter to discuss with him, or some piece of 
work he is engaged upon to present for approval. All those 
countless questions which only children can think of will fill the 
air, until the master takes flight, and then the mister calls order 
for dismissal. 

This mister held himself responsible for the good name 
of his class at all times, and delighted to relate accounts of 



their doings in other lessons. Once the whole company got 
into trouble with a master, and were all put down for detention. 
The mister of his own accord reported the whole matter as it 

had fallen out, and concluded, " And then, sir, Mr. said 

he would put us all in detention." 

" Well, what of it ? " I asked, judging that I was expected 
to see Mr. and persuade him to let them off. 

" Nothing sir," replied the mister, " only I thought you'd 
like to know how it happened." 


The sense of responsibility for one's own actions, pride in 
self-control and loyalty to one's group are a great stimulus to 
well-doing. If self-government were established in schools, 
not experimentally here and there, but as a tradition of method, 
a boy would no more dream of fooling during lessons than he 
would think of fooling while his side was fielding in a cricket 

If this seem an exaggeration, that is because the master's 
attitude has still to be considered. I mean the master regarded 
as subject-teacher. If he persists in spoon-feeding, then what 
has just been said in praise of self-government will not hold 
good, because spoon-feeding and complete self-government 
in a classroom cannot exist at the same time. 

Why not ? 

Because complete self-govenment must include for the 
boy the control of his learning as well as the control of his 
discipline. That is a very important view of the scope of 
self-government, and one to which too little attention has 
been paid. 

Suppose for the sake of clearness we divide a boy's school 
activity into two parts, behaviour and learning. Now most 
teachers in considering self-government think of it only in 
relation to discipline. Those who have tried it find that the 
boys behave much better when given responsibility for their 
own behaviour. Very well then, why not bring in self-govern- 
ment for the other side of school activity, and test whether or 


not the boys will learn much better when given responsibility 
for their own learning ? 

But how can this be done ? 

The question of how to persuade a boy to feel responsibility 
for his own learning, and to realize that nothing can be taught 
him which he does not cause himself to leam, is perhaps the 
most difficult problem which a teacher has to face. I have 
had the privilege of discussing the problem very thoroughly 
with two or three thoughtful teachers. All agreed that spoon- 
feeding was bad. But they said one often had to fall back 
upon it when the boys did not pursue learning of their own 
accord. That form of teaching (or learning) is best, we agreed, 
in which a boy sees a mark and aims at it. The function of 
the teacher is to stimulate the boy to fix his eye on a mark, 
to encourage him to pursue it, and to help and correct him 
when necessary. But all this activity on the part of the teacher 
presumes a previous activity in learning on the .part of the boy. 

This activity on the part of the boy is what I mean by 
3elf-government in learning — ^responsibility for his own studies. 
And the problem is, " How can the teacher set m motion this 
activity in learning ? " * 

Well, I have my solution. I cannot answer for teachers 
of a different class of subject ; and perhaps for the teaching 
of Latin, French, Mathematics, and Science my suggestions 
will be of no avail. But for the study of Uterature in the 
mother tongue, and for the making of literature in the mother 
tongue, in plays, poems, and prose, the suggestion which I 
am about to put forward has proved satisfactory over a period 
of four years. And further, the principle, so far as can be seen, 
holds good in the practice of other arts such as acting, speaking, 
dancing, and also in handicraft. 

The driving-power must be interest. One can be interested 
in the means or in the end, but the means is only right if it 
leads to the end. Therefore, you say, we must first decide 
what is the end, and then work towards it. True, but what 
do we mean by the end ? An immediate end or an ultimate 
end ? Immediate ends must satisfy, for we shall never find 

* The word " activity " in this connexion must not be confused with 
the physical activity of the methods described throughout this book. 



the ultimate end. If there is any ultimate end to our pursuit 
it is so far off that none of us can see it. That elimination 
leaves us with ends near and ends remote, but no ultimate 
end, and therefore we are always on the way. 

But as the means is only right in so far as it leads to an end, 
we must postulate an end of some kind, in order to determine 
our coiu-se of action. And this is where teachers fail their 
pupils. They give them no end to work towailis, no mark 
upon which they may fix their eyes. 

Suppose a boy asks, " Why must I do this exercise ? " 
The reply is, " Because it will help you to learn the language." 
A shrewd boy sees that this is no answer, because he can always 
ask, " Why must I learn the language ? " And after five minutes 
of such questions he would have pushed the wisest philosopher 
to the last refuge of casuistry. Such questions the schoolmaster 
in self-defence cuts short with, " Because I tell you to," or 
" Because you must, and there's an end of it." Thus conapulsion 
is the end, and instead of some mark before him upon which 
he may fix his eye, the boy gets only a peremptory push from 

But what is the alternative ? What is there to save us from 
this nightmare of an ever-receding objective ? 

My answer is that we must give our attention to what 
is usually called the means, and make that otir end. Thus 
we get something definite to do at once : what lies nearest. 
We put ourselves heart and soul into pursuing this immediate 
" end," which of course is no end at all, but just one of those 
milestones marking the stages of the eternal way. 

A discussion of the ethical side of this question would be 
engaging, but the reader expects definite and practical pro- 
posals. So I will endeavoiir to be quite explicit. 

If a boy is to be responsible for his own learning he must 
have an interest in it. I have already shown how much is 
included in this term " interest." A boy must have his heart 
set upon what he is doing. Some things are interesting in 
themselves, others are not. Those that are not interesting 
must be associated with the things nearest at hand which are 

Interest, w^other immediate or remote (but not too remote), 


is what the teacher must depend upon to set in motion and to 
keep in motion that activity of learning, the creation and fostering 
of which was our problem. 

For the practical purposes of school the immediate interest 
is what you must chiefly rely upon, more especially with young 
boys. But tasks not immediately interesting in themselves 
wiU be undertaken readily and accomplished thoroughly if 
they contribute directly to something not too far off which 
is of interest. 

Take an example : a boy may not find it interesting to 
learn lines of blank verse by heart, and so long as he cannot 
see that any end or purpose is served by learning them he 
will not be active in his learning, will not be doing the work 
because his heart is in it, but because the master has the power 
to make him. The fact that his general culture is served by 
the performance of this work leaves him cold. The end is 
too distant, and so the work becomes not a pleasure but a task. 
But now suppose that same boy to be learning blank verse 
lines in order to take his part in the performance of a play. 
Now the uninteresting work contributes directly to something 
near at hand which is of interest. Instead of twenty or thirty 
lines poorly studied and deUvered, without Ufe, you will find him 
readily learning even two or three hundred lines. And being 
now active in his learning the boy is anxious to be taught still 
further, and willingly studies to master the extra tuition in the 
way of expression, deUvery, action and so on which his teacher 
gives him. 

Similarly, a boy may find it a bore to write well, but if you 
ask him to practise until his handwriting is neat enough for 
him to copy some of his work (or even some one else's work) 
into an album in which you take a pride he will do his best at 

Drill may be dull, and smartness at a detention driU can 
only be obtained by the harshest discipline of a drill sergeant. 
Fear is the motive. But if you are practising scouts for a 
display, or cadets for a section competition or for an inspection, 
you get them to take a pride in their smartness and efficiency 
— so much so that the good fellows rejoice in a strict and 
exacting sergeant, and are very xmhappy if they are drilled by 



some weak or inefficient commander. Interest now is the motive. 
Those who think there can be Uttle room for self-government 
in such a thing as drill simply do not miderstand what self- 
government means. 

Notice that the interesting end for which a dull task is 
willingly undertaken is not always greater than the task. The 
means is generally of more value than these false ends. For, 
as I have said, these so-called ends are only encouraging mile- 
stones marking stages on the eternal way, and it is the going 
that really matters. A boy may be persuaded to do the really 
valuable work he disliked for the mere sake of some compara- 
tively trivial thing he is interested in. The drill, for example, 
is the thing of real importance, and the display or the inspection 
is nothing but a tape a hundred yards down the course for 
•him to run to. When the boy's interest is not stimulated in 
some way he has to be pushed, and you never yet saw any one 
run at top speed with some one pushing ! Carrots ahead are 
better than a stick behind, for a goal is always better than a 

Teachers are ready to admit all this, but they seem unable 
to find carrots or bits of tape. They do certain' y give marks 
and prizes, but that the use of these as an incentive is either 
ineffective or harmful needs no demonstration here. But until 
teachers look at things from the Littleman point of view they 
will never be able to lead Littleman. 

Further to illustrate the contention that interest in even 
a trivial " end " will cause a boy to do really valuable work 
which he could not otherwise be brought to take an interest 
in, let me give an extreme example : The writing of poems and 
ballads seems to me a good thing for a boy's study of language 
and literature. A boy may fancy he cannot make poems, 
or is not interested enough to try. You can of course set 
him to make ballads as a task. But the work is all but useless 
to the boy unless he takes an interest, and is active in his own 
learning. Well, many a Littleman who saw no fun in writing 
poems did see the fun in making a chap-book of his own, a 
gaudy little book tied with bright ribbons and bearing a fine 
title on the cover. But there has to be something inside the 
chap-book. So many a boy who cared little for poems for their 



own sake has put his whole heart into making them, and making 
them good enough to pass chap-book standard. Strange, is 
it not ? But if that is Littleman's way it is the teacher's business 
to take count of it. 

But not only will a boy sometimes do good work for an 
apparently trivial end : the other aspect of the case is alst 
true. That is to say, boys who are not interested to achieve 
some end can be encouraged to achieve it if the means thereto 
be made interesting. This does not mean that schoolwork 
shall all be made easy and pleasant. Keenness takes necessary 
labour in its stride. Once the boys' interest is aroused they 
will cheerfully overcome that modicum of drudgery which is 
an indispensable part of all imdertakiugs. 

Take an example of this other aspect — a study, which 
does not in itself interest the boy, mastered because he has been 
interested in the stages which led up to it. I consider a know- 
ledge of stage-craft essential, not only for the practice of play- 
making, but also for a due appreciation of Elizabethan dramatic 
literature. Yoimg inexperienced boys would find this study 
very dull, for by stage-craft in this connexion I do not mean 
mere matters of entrances, exits, scene-divisions, and scenic or 
lighting effects ; but rather a critical study of the dramatist's 
art and workmanship. When I gave a course of lectures on this 
subject to senior boys, we read plays and some of the best 
dramatic criticism, and one or two of them entered into the 
spirit of the study. But eight out of ten, although this was a 
chosen group out of the sixth form, were as bored as possible, 
and though the matters imder discussion were interesting in 
all sorts of ways, they would not become active in their own 

This failure to learn on their part was probably due 
to the fact that I was spoon-feeding, doling out facts, and then 
doling out conclusions drawn from those facts, and leaving these 
boys no responsibility in the study, no self-government in the 
process of learning. For they were not idle or stupid boys, 
and therefore the fault was most likely in the method of teaching. 

The same study was then undertaken with junior boys 
in the third form, and even in the second, but on the Play 
Way. The magnitude of the undertakiug never appalled them, 



for " The study of dramatic art and workmanship " was never 
mentioned. Long prosy discourses did not bore them, because 
discourses were not delivered until the boys had obtained 
enough interest in and knowledge of the subject not to find 
them prosy. And then they delivered the discourses themselves ! 

We simply took a play of Shakespeare and acted it. We 
soon found that certain things had to be done, and that their 
doing was directed by the dramatist. The boys were interested 
in acting the play, and soon became interested in observing 
many things essentially connected with the acting of the play. 
They were fascinated when many examples showed how the 
" scenery " was given as part and parcel of the play, and was 
meant to be carried in the mind's eye. When it was further 
shown, not in lectures, but always in a passing reference while 
play was going on, that Shakespeare also gives most of the 
necessary stage directions in the lines, the boys were delighted, 
because as they said, Here were they acting a play, and the play 
itself told them what to do. Then it does not need any great 
persuasion to get a boy who is acting a certain part to study 
the character he represents. And by such natural processes, 
always mingling the practice with the instruction, and drawing 
rules out of examples instead of hunting for examples to illustrate 
rules, the interest was maintained through all the upward 

In the end these boys had a considerable acquaintance 
with stage-craft and dramatic workmanship. Several third- 
form boys gave lectures on the subject in connexion with 
Henry IV. The lecture of one boy (aged 12|) lasted through 
fom- school periods because the others raised so many points 
for discussion and questions with which he had to deal. 

* Although these active methods are here instanced as ways of engaging 
the interest of the boys their attractiveness is not by any means the sole 
reason for using them. We act the plays we study, not only because it is 
entertaining to do so, but because plays are made to be acted. The making 
of broadsides and chap-books also was introduced (and many another 
handicraft proposed), not only for the fun of the thing. All this was really 
a tiny part of an ideal scheme for connecting the arts and the crafts, of 
bringing lore to life and life to lore. But the classroom system made any 
adequate realization of this dream impossible. We must wait for a Play 
School Commonwealth. 


Does any one imagine that third-form boys could find enough 
interest in this suli^ject of dramatic craftsmanship unless their 
interest had been catered for step by step from the start ? 

In connexion with plays the need for acting is obvious, 
but in other connexions people have often thought there was 
an unnecessary amount of play in our classroom. Visitors 
have indulgently observed, " Of course your aim is to represent 
the extreme as a demonstration of the Play Way." Toys and a 
miscellaneous assortment of apparatus, much jumping about, 
some dressing up, and often quite a din — ^all this as a method 
of teaching literature and composition has often moved my 
friends to jocular comment. There seemed to be more of the 
gamesome element than was really inherent in the subject 
under study ! Quite so. But the boy is more important than 
the subject, and I fancy there was rarely more of the Play 
Way than was suited to the nature of the active self -learning, 
self-teaching student, Littleman. 

Such, then, is my solution of the problem, " How is tht 
teacher to set in motion an activity in learning on the part of the 
boy ? " As has been said already, the method was only devised 
in and for the practice of what can best be described as " the 
arts." But it may be that some of those masters of arts en- 
gaged in teaching languages, mathematics, history, and science 
would find their younger pupils more active in learning if the 
masters and the boys between them could devise methods of 
study which were at once as interesting as the finest game and as 
valuable as the deepest study — in short, Play-ways. 




He first begins to perceive himself, to see or taste, making little 
reflections upon his actions of sense, and can discourse of flies 
and dogs, shells and play, horses and liberty : but when he is 
strong enough to enter in arts and little institutions, he is at 
first entertained with trifles and impertinent things, not because 
he needs them, but because his understanding is no bigger, and 
little images of things are laid before him, like a cock-boat to a 
whale, only to play withal. — Jeeemy Taylor. 

There is a school-lesson which is able to hold children from other 
play and old men from the chimney-corner The game may be 
played anjrwhere and by any number of persons, and no appara- 
tus is required. All the work is done by the boys, and the master 
may if he likes take no active part at all. Yet every moment of 
the time is filled with something of value to all. 

Briefly the scheme is but this : The boys come out one at a 
time and speak to the class for a few minutes on subjects of their 
own choosing. The lectures may be either prepared or extem- 
pore. One member of the class acts as chairman and announces 
the speaker, another goes about to discover who is ready to speak 
next and upon what subject, and a third official at the close of 
each lecture ascertains the marks. The marks are apportioned 
by the boys of the class, voting with a show of hands. 

This scheme, like most of our methods, originated in a chance 
discovery, which was afterwards adapted in various small ways 
to suit current requirement. 

In the summer term of 1914 I was much interested in 
oral composition. We had just pubHshed a book of prose 
studies,* and the boys were reading these in class, and 
trying to equal them. The published work of their fellows in 

* Perse Playbooks, No. 4. 

'The Gods" dictating their Lines after inventing tlie 
in Baldr's Death (Act II, Scene 2) 

•Eag ■' Scene 


the class above had an immediate interest for the Littlemen. 
And, for my part, I was so full of enthusiasm for the pages we 
were reading as to overlook for the moment the method which 
had produced them. We were, in fact, working on entirely 
wrong lines, for those prose studies had not come of reading 
prose and admiring it, and trying to equal it in imitation. They 
had come of new practice. So the books were put away, and the 
boys were called upon to dehver extempore prose studies orally. 
But the boys, come hot from the study of literary models, natu- 
rally kept their attention fixed upon the style of what they were 

The result was horrible. Boys would go up to the platform 
one after another and either spout forth turgid orations, insincere 
and meaningless, or they would build up with much pausing and 
going back for self-correction the most laboured of narratives 
and the most highly-coloured descriptions. We heard too much 
of evening and of sunset ; the " gentle breeze " became terribly 
familiar. People ceased to go naturally from place to place, they 
either " wound their way slowly down the hill," or " wended." 
One came to anticipate with a nervous fidget such phrases as 
" The silence was only broken by . . . ," or " Now all is bustle 
and confusion," or, as a peroration. " Until at last the something 
somethinged and all was still." 

I soon saw what was amiss. Our interest in the finished 
work of others had led us to believe that we could take up the 
work as it stood, and carry on. The boys were working on the 
assumption that the use of this effect or that turn of phrase 
would make good prose. As a result they were simply cultivat- 
ing clicks and empty journalese. Although I had just written 
an emphatic exposition of the play-methods which had brought 
about these very models, I had actually been encouraging the 
boys to start from the wrong end of the stick. 

This mistake has been described here as a warning to other 
teachers, who may on such an occasion be equally thoughtless. 
It is perilously easy to fall away in practice from our own good 
theories. A teacher of English literature and composition must 
often be tempted to say to his class, " Let us use this writer as a 
modd." or " Let us take a hint from this essay, or that." But 
we must never forget that the first essential of good writing is 



the having something to say. Many teachers with a fine piece 
of hterature before them in class are content to point out the 
merit of the work rather than to insist that it was only brought 
about by this measure of toil, by that kind of discipline, and 
above all by that eagerness which presses forward to make 
rather than halts at each step to remark progress. 

So we recollected ourselves, and returned to the Play Way. 
There had been no lack of interest in the work, but it was 
obvious that we had to get back to the position of having 
something to say. So, one summer morning, when the class- 
room was very stuffy, the boys were let out into the play- 
ground — ^to talk. I suggested stump-speeches, street-comer tub- 
thumping, believing that a period or two of sheer " rag " would 
clear away the cobwebs of the artificial effort at " style," and 
persuade the boys to find their own means of expression. You 
will see what came of it. 

We trooped out into the yard. A chair was brought, and 
one boy at once stood on it and began to shout against Woman 
Suffrage. I encouraged the crowd to cry disagreement, or to 
murmur approval, and to heckle the speaker with searching 
questions. A defender of the cause followed, and soon the crowd 
began to show some interest. There were now not only cries, 
but counter-cries. Next came a crude attack upon Home Rule 
(the reader will recollect that such matters occupied men's minds 
in 1914). By this time the class was so loud in the expression of 
its opinion that I had to reassure several earnest prefects : for 
prefects no less than masters are apt to confuse noise with dis- 

But mark what happened. While there was actually an 
opportunity for making a real big noise during school-time, while 
the master was actually urging the crowd of listeners to shout 
for or against the speaker's views, and expecting to see a surging 
crowd of Littlemen making belief of difference for the sake of 
turmoil — ^the third speaker mounted the chair and observed that, 
although he was unable to speak forcibly upon subjects which 
would cause commotion, yet he was anxious, if they would allow 
him, to describe certain methods of fishing. 

Fishing ! Could anything be imagined more in contrast to 
the tumult I had been trying to stir up ? But of this offer the 


Littleman crowd expressed genuine approval. They cried "Hear 
hear," and prepared themselves to listen in silence. Now, the 
very same lecture might have been given under the regime we 
had just abandoned, for the Littlemen had been quite free to 
say whatever they liked. So a thoughtless person might easily 
say that my attempted excursion into Hyde Park oratory was a 
piece of gratuitous tomfoolery. 

Superficially regarded, this shifting from the classroom to 
the playground, and the incitement to noise and disorder may 
indeed seem pointless But if you will consider the matter you 
will agree that it was mainly owing to the uprooting, this break- 
ing away, and the starting of new groups of association in the 
mind, that the boys were able to rid themselves of the classroom 
obsession with its tyranny of the book, and to be free of that 
too heavy burden of models. 

When you put less faith in mere instruction and give more 
regard to the boys' point of view you must take such things as 
this into consideration. Play Way notions may often look 
absurd at first sight, but there are more things in boys and the 
way of treating them than are dreamt of in your pedagogy. 

The lecture on Fishing began. While it was going on I 
retired from my place in the crowd. 

The speaker divided his subject well, first enumerating the 
various ways of fishing, and then dealing briefly with each in 
turn. It was clear that on some points, he could easily have 
spoken more fully than he did. The class awarded him full 
marks. The next lecture was on How to milk a Cow. It was 
a short and practical description by a country train-boy, who 
told us that he spoke from everyday experience. His unsmiling 
description of some common errors, and the resulting mishaps, 
caused great amusement. The lecturer seemed surprised that 
we laughed at the cow plunging her foot into the pail, or lurching 
so as to upset pail, milkman and all. He was thinking doubtless 
of the spilt milk and the clumsy milker. But we laughed the 
more at his earnest manner, and enjoyed it all very much. But 
he repeated himself once or twice, so the class gave him only 
seven marks out of a possible ten. 

None of the boys remarked on the abandonment of our 
original plan. They were interested to hear what the lecturers 



had to say, and had no wish to make a noise. On the other 
side of the playground railings runs the main street of the town. 
Yet the attention of the class was not noticeably distracted. 
I had grouped them so as to face the passing traffic, and so every 
boy without turning round could see that there was nothing to 
see. The speaker stood on his chair facing his audience, and 
when any lecturer allowed the noise of the passing vehicles to 
drown his speech, we simply set him, not nearer his audience, 
but farther off, and thus persuaded him to make better use of 
his voice. 

On the day when the oral composition lesson came round 
again the boys were unanimously in favoiir of going to the play- 
ground. They did not pause to think that we could give our 
lectures with less effort indoors. The interesting lesson was 
now associated with the playground ; and I really believe that 
if we had been kept in by rain the Littlemen would have had 
to think twice before realizing that the lesson was not necessarily 

One of the boys of this form (lib, average age about 11) 
came to ask if he might be mister. This meant that he would 
take complete charge of the proceedings, see that lectures were 
forthcoming, announce each speaker and his subject, give due 
opportunity for criticism, see that the marks were apportioned 
by a vote of the class, and be responsible for the general ordei 
of the gathering. Since the petitioner was one of the less able 
boys in the form, an old-stager, I was very glad to grant his 
request. Within five minutes the mister had benches set out, 
a deputy appointed to call for the marking, a lecturer on the 
chair ready to begin, and the whole class sitting attentive before 
him. This class, be it said in passing, had never been subject to 
a mister before. And this new mister was not in any sense aided 
by my presence. Indeed I was not present at the start. While 
the first lecture was going on the mister canvassed the circle, 
and took promise of speeches to follow. 

At the close of a lecture the marker stands up and takes 
the marks in this way. He counts, not very slowly, from one 
to ten, and the boys raise their hands as he reaches the number 
they judge fit. 

Delays may at first be occasioned by the company's falling 

A Littleman Lecturing Oiat of Doors 

[See p, ^4 

A Lifctlemau lecturing Indoors 

[See p. in 


into conversation between lectures. This is not a harmful 
practice, but a perfectly natural one, and should not be ruthlessly 
suppressed. The boys and I have found it very congenial to 
chat in pairs and groups about the last speaker and his subject. 
To break out into a buzz of talk after a period of silent attention 
— ^is it not common to audiences the world over ? Why then 
should this be prohibited in eager boys, O pedagogue ? But we 
are only permitted a few moments of chatter, for the marker 
knows his business, and steps out almost at once to take the 

There may also be a slight initial difficulty with the voting. 
Most people are unwilling to rely entirely upon their own judg- 
ment, if there is any chance of gauging first the opinion of others. 
At first during the counting you will see many of the Littlemen 
looking round to see how the others are voting before raising 
their hands. But if the boys are warned of this tendency (Little- 
men are much interested in Play- ways, and quite frankly discuss 
ways of learning things), and if they are asked to be ready with 
their several decisions before the coimting begins, they will at 
once take a pride in their individual judgment. Hands will be 
thrown up most decisively on seven or eight or ten, as the case 
may be, and the business put through with dispatch. An 
experienced marker can count from one to ten and announce 
the decision in less than a quarter of a minute. That is because 
he does not actually count the hands held up for each number 
he calls, but relies, as it were, on the " show." He gets his eye 
in. The mister then announces the next speaker : " The 
Chicken will now give a lecture on Architecture." The interval 
between speeches, for conversation, marking, and annoimcement 
has been at most a minute. 

At the close of that second lecture-lesson the mister on 
his own initiative handed me a report-sheet which is now 
before me. It is dated July 7, 1914, and there are two 
columns, headed respectively " Speeches " and " Marks " 
Titles of seven lectures are given (the Littlemen still call them 
" speeches " from that first tub-thumping experiment), and the 
marks are chronicled. Then follow eight names bracketed, with 
the note : " Were going to speak, but there was no time." Then 
five more names bracketed, with the comment : " Did not offer 



to speak." At the bottom of the page appear the names of th 
mister and the marker. Here, then, were twenty-two boys o 
whom only five were unwilling to take an active part. Truly W( 
had invented a type of lesson which interested the boys. Threi 
of the laggard five were only temporarily indisposed, for thej 
lectured a few days later, as my record shows. These were th( 
subjects chosen by the speakers in that first real lecture-lesson 

Flying a Kite. 

On the Use of a Handkerchief. 

How to do your Hair. 

Learning to swim. 

Saturn and his Rings. 


The Rule of the Road. 

The lecture On the Use of a Handkerchief was interesting 
because at first sight it appears that there is nothing seemly to 
say. But the speaker dealt with his subject in the manner of a 
Book of Courtesy, giving directions of what to do, and warnings 
against things to be avoided. He made a point of the unobtru- 
sive nature of the operation, counselled his hearers not to indulge 
in any preliminary wavings, and gave a graphic description of 
what happens in the mrgency of a sneeze, when the handkerchief 
has to be snatched hurriedly out of a pocketful of accumulated 
boy-stuff. He raised merry laughter by his catalogue of the 
miscellanea which most of his hearers had at that moment in 
their pockets — string, pencils, papers, stamps, knife, whistle, 
and Littleman alone knows what. Another point which 
delighted the listeners was the serious warning against " that 
loud trumpeting sornid," though the lecturer, with conspicuous 
restraint as it seemed to me, refrained from any illustration. 

The choice of How to do your Hair as a subject also surprised 
me, for to all outward seeming Littleman does not as a rule 
" do " his hair at all. But the speaker was a boarder, and had 
doubtless observed the scrupulous care with which some of the 
senior boys in the House attended to their toilet. I well re- 
member a clique of youths, when I was about sixteen, who spent 
nearly an hour on Simday, between breakfast and morning 
Chapel, in " doing their hair." There was much talk of " part- 


ings," much care to have them clean and straight. And it was 
essential for smartness to part your hair in the middle rather 
than at the side. I always affected to take my hair as a matter 
of course ; but I bestowed much thought upon selecting among 
some half-dozen ties, and very nice was I about the adjustment 
of a tie-pin I had. But recollections of one's own schooldays 
must not intrude here. Perhaps the life of the adolescent boys 
in our public schools will yet find its H. G. Wells. But that will 
be a very different story from the story of Littleman. 

Saturn and his Rings was a very good lecture. As an ordinary 
ignorant schoolmaster I could not on that morning have said 
two words about Saturn and his Sings, so I listened attentively 
to this boy of eleven while he told us what he had seen for him- 
self through his astronomical telescope, and what he had read in 

In common with most other people I have attended popular 
lectures on many scientific subjects, and I can say that a good 
Littleman lecturer, speaking very plainly and without tiresome 
repetitions and unnecessary explanations, will give an attentive 
listener more information in ten minutes than the usual adult 
lecturer will in half an hour. Littleman is not discursive, he 
says a thing once and leaves it. Very much, of course, depends 
upon one's audience. Littleman is not conscious of any need to 
talk down to his hearers. In any case his hearers are boys of 
like passions with himself. One thing which makes for a good 
straightforward style, full of matter, is the need to be brief. 
The boys Usten to every word the lecturer says, and if the 
interest should lapse or if the speaker should wander into im- 
necessary wordiness the class at once shows impatience. " Hurry 
up," they say ; and show their anxiety to get on to the next 
speaker. No one could desire closer attention from a class than 
is shown during these lectures. 

Two American visitors who happened to be present during 
this experimental period were surprised to see the boys them- 
selves apportioning the marks, and asked if they were capable 
of judgment. I said they were as fit to judge in this matter as 
their master ; more fit perhaps, because they knew more about 
the subjects chosen, and had themselves tried making such 
speeches. At this moment a very good lecture on The Rule of 



the Road, explaining why traffic has to keep to the left, came tc 
an end. The class voted the speaker only four marks.' 

" That isn't fair, surely," whispered the visitor. 

" How do you know ? " I replied. " There must be a reason.' 
So I made a little speech, pointing out that in my judgment the 
lecture was quite as good as others which had been voted twice 
as many marks. One of the boys in reply pointed out that al] 
they had just heard had been told them in class by one of the 
masters a few days before. That was the reason. But he paid 
the speaker a compUment on his style and delivery. Then the 
clock struck, and so ended the first whole period of Littlemati 

When the boys were gone one of the American visitors ex- 
pressed surprise at the fluency of the speakers, and the width 
of their vocabulary. " How long," she asked, " has it taken to 
bring them to such a high standard ? " I told her that this was 
only the second " lesson " in free lecturing, and that none ol 
these lectures had been specially prepared. 

" But how is it possible ? " she insisted. My answer was 
that in this matter the boys were not being taught at all. They 
were simply being allowed to speak naturally and easily on 
subjects which interested them. Any boy can speak fluently 
if he knows what he wants to say. And as for the erudition 
shown by some of the speakers, and their familiarity with tech- 
nical and scientific terms, that also is common among smal] 
boys on subjects which interest them. It is only school-teachers 
who find small boys ill-informed. 

But the visitor was charmed above all by the entire absence 
of self-consciousness. There was no shyness, no faltering; 
every one spoke as one speaks to one's friends. That, I agreed, 
was the most delightful part of this work ; and I was trying tc 
make clear that Littleman is frank and happy and unselfcon^ 
scious simply because he is not yet adolescent, when this good 
lady burst in with, " Yes, it's wonderful, but what I don't see is 
how you teach them to he natural ! " Then I saw that I had befon 
me the absolute thing in American teachers ; so I simply said, 
" I don't," and fled after the boys. 

After that day, throughout the whole school year, 
" Speeches " has been the most popular lesson in Form! 


Ila and lib. Improvements in the method of procedure made 
their appearance one by one. Before long some sage fellow 
complained that the class was giving the best marks for the 
most enjoyable speeches, without giving due attention to the 
style. He suggested that the marks be taken twice, once for 
" Interest " and once for " Style." This excellent suggestion 
was at once adopted. 

A master who introduced speeches with another class sug- 
gested marking also for deportment, because while some boys 
stood upright and faced the class, others were slovenly in their 
attitude. This deportment column he proposed to call " Stance.' 
We experts in Ila approved of the intention. Perhaps the more 
so because we had observed that masters often addressed the 
class with their hands in their pockets, a habit of which Little- 
man had long since cured himself. But we did not add the 
" Stance " column to our mark-table because we decided that 
the deportment of a speaker was either satisfactory or un- 
satisfactory, and could not be appraised in degrees of one to ten. 

After two and a half terms had passed it occurred to one of 
the boys that there should be a column to represent the master's 
opinion. Certainly some adjustment is necessary in cases here 
and there, if you intend religiously to copy all these marks into 
a mark-book, and then periodically to add up the rows and rows 
of figures, and delude yourself that the result signifies anything. 
Marks are always given for these speeches, and recorded in the 
book where all the titles are chronicled. But I never add them 
together. A numerical mark is quite a useful means of indicat- 
ing your opinion of a single speech or a piece of prose or even a 
poem, and so we have always given marks both for oral and for 
written work, but it is years since I gave up adding these tokens 
together ! An order based on marks in such a subject as English 
is so unrepresentative, so meaningless, that it might as well be 

A valuable part of the procedure which soon made its appear- 
ance was " Criticism." The mister calls for this after the speech 
and before marks are taken. The coming of criticism did away 
with the general conversation which had previously filled the 
intervals. Some of the criticism has been very good, and all of 
it interesting. Criticism rarely exceeds two sentences in length. 



Anjiiihing may be said as criticism, a flat contradiction in a 
matter of fact,* a correction of some inference drawn or ar 
amplification of some important point treated too briefly, 
Mannerisms of style, such as the too frequent use of one word 
or a constant repetition of the same form of sentence, are sooe 
picked out. " Stance " is also dealt with by the critics. 

Single speeches were occasionally criticized for lack of interest, 
or the marking was sufficient to show the feeling of the class, 
But on one occasion an excellent lecture in several chapters on 
Architecture was abandoned out of deference to their wishes. 
The boy had given a chapter each on : 

Greek Architecture. 
Roman Architecture. 
Byzantine Architecture. 
Norman Architecture. 

They were excellent lectures and well prepared. The speaker 
used the troublesome architectural terms correctly and with ease, 
and his sketches were always clear. Visitors found these lectures 
very interesting, but some of the Littlemen were bored. No 
complaints were made during criticism, perhaps because of the 
master's evident approval. But out of school some of them 
suggested to the lecturer that he should give it up. So he did. 
And for his next lecture he brought in a puff-ball as big as his 
head and gave a most popular object-lesson ! I easily persuaded 
him not to drop his architectural studies by asking him to write 
for me " Littleman's Book of Architecture." Thus criticism 
does make citizens of us all. 

But praise is expected as well as blame. Praise is so much 
more difficult that it may be recommended as an adjunct for set 
use by those teachers who feel that free lecturing by itself is too 
much of a game and not sufficiently a task. It is evident that 
even a few words in appreciation of a lecture just given must be 
a studied piece of work, and cannot come trippingly on the 
tongue unless it is merely a bunch of conventional phrases. 

Among boys " taught to be natural " criticism in the forir 
of praise is of course rare. One boy, Sir Bevis, himself all bul 

* There was once a three-cornered discussion about electricity anc 
magnetism which lasted some time and was quite unintelligible to me. 


unsurpassed as a lecturer, and a double-tenner nearly every day, 
made a series of efforts to encourage weaker boys when after 
long silence they had been persuaded by the mister to make their 
appearance. But his appreciation generally took this form : 

" Sir, I am sure the class has enjoyed the lecture on Cranes 
which Jim has just given. It is a good thing he has wakened 
from his long sleep, and I hope we shall soon hear him again." 
Sir Bevis was much in love with his metaphor of hibernation, and 
used it three or four times in a fortnight. But very soon Sir 
Bevis was squashed by his peers and bidden to "take a long sleep." 
It is very difficult to praise well. 

In addition to the criticism which comes after a lecture there 
is current correction by the hanuner. One boy in the class holds 
a small mallet and raps with it smartly on his desk whenever he 
wishes to pull up the speaker for some error. 

What follows here is not a digression from the subject of 
Littleman lectures, but a brief account of some errors which are 
corrected by the hammer-boy in current criticism while the 
lecture is going on. Much of the boys' knowledge of the English 
language is thus at once learnt and made sure in practice. As 
they go gaily along they pick up facts of vocabulary and forms 
of construction, which as a rule — ^if they are taught at all — are 
taught in dull lessons by themselves. These facts are in any case 
not learnt in such dull lessons for in the absence of any free prac- 
tice in speaking during school-time it is impossible for boys to 
bring this knowledge into play and so make it their own. 

The two words nice and lot, which are the only words I abso- 
lutely forbid (save in their special meanings), do not require the 
hammer. They have become so imutterable that if they should 
slip out in an unguarded moment the whole class jumps and 
cries " Oo ! " and the speaker hurriedly corrects himself. The 
hammer-boy raps whenever he misses a word and says, " Louder, 
please,' ' or simply, " Can't hear." He knocks also for bad gram- 
mar, mispronunciation, or any obscurity. In fact it is his busi- 
ness to knock whenever the speaker makes a fault. If he fails to 
Icnock some one else cries correction, and the hammer is his. If 
any reader should fancy that the need of hammer-correction is 
confined to small boys in school let him attend as carefully as a 
Littleman to the next adult lecturer or preacher he sits under, and 



count the number of hammer-raps he might have given if he had 
had the chance. 

In the matter of vocabiolary women are great offenders. It 
is rare to find a woman who troubles herself at all about any 
relation between the words she uses and their meanings. I have 
heard a woman use the word nice over sixty times in an hour. 
The word was used to cover about forty meanings such as 
" warm," " cold," " pretty," " interesting," " useful " ; it was 
also used as an intensive, as in a " nice hot bath," a " nice big 
bun " ; and also to express irony, as in " Here's a nice state 
of affairs ! " or " A nice mess you've made of it." But nice is 
perhaps chiefly used to express inarticulate approval. Where a 
baby would gurgle, a cat purr, or a dog wag his tail, a woman 
says " Nice." This use expresses a vague satisfaction upon 
which the intelligence has not been brought to bear. " How 
nice ! " " Nice and cosy," " Nice man." 

This is at present the most misused word in our language, but 
many more are being rendered almost meaningless by the habit 
of overstatement so common to-day. Thus " perfectly," " ab- 
solutely," "simply," "hopelessly," "vast" ("a vast deal" 
is current journalese for " much "), " fine," " splendid," 
" wretched," " heaps," " tons," " ages." And in fact most of 
the strongest and most expressive words are becoming daily 
weaker and less expressive. 

Teachers' lessons are not the best corrective of this tendency. 
The trouble does not arise from lack of knowledge, but from 
careless, unthinking speech ; and so, after the evil has once been 
pointed out, it is best corrected while the speaker is actually 
speaking. The hammer-rap is effective because it gives correc- 
tion on the spot, and easily prevents the formation of bad habits 
which later on would be almost too hard to break. 

Littleman lecturers are fluent speakers, and do not as a 
rule indulge in hum and ha. But the slightest hesitation is 
ruthlessly shown up by the hammer-boy. A lecturer may say, 
" This is called the — er — ^gauge." Rap, goes the hammer. " No 
er ! " says the boy. I have heard this correction many times, 
although I had not noticed the er. Here again you have Little- 
man as a more exacting critic than his master. 

Adult public speakers might gain some benefit from an occa- 


sional practice at home, subject to the hanuner-correction of their 
children ! Suggestions of this kind are apt to shock such self- 
satisfied people as preachers and pubUc speakers. I have tried 
the suggestion upon one or two. They snort through their noses, 
and walk up and down uneasily, and talk about " making the 
boys into abominable self-satisfied little prigs." The abominable 
self-satisfied big prig, look you, will not have his preserves 
invaded. Children have been so long suppressed that we had 
really come to believe that adults were the only ones who could 
teach, and children the only ones who required teaching. 

It is repression which makes for priggishness, smugness, and 
hypocrisy. A boy treated naturally remains natural and frank 
and open, and corrects his master just as freely as he corrects his 
fellows, and not with any malicious glee. 

Certain common errors, such as a split infinitive or the 
beginning a sentence in one construction, and finishing it in 
another (very common to all speakers), can be pointed out 
once by the master. The hammer then drives the point 
home by insisting upon immediate correction whenever the 
fault occurs. Another famihar mistake is our old friend, " Being 
a wet day I wore a mackintosh." You may find instances of this 
error every day in the newspapers, for instance, " Arriving at the 
station no one was there to meet me." 

These mistakes the Littlemen soon learn by practice to avoid ; 
but there is one error which no amount of correction in school has 
stamped out. That is the use of " lay " for " lie." When a speaker 
says " There he laid for an hour," we ask him, " Eggs or bricks ? " 
And I have expounded many times on the blackboard the dis- 
tinction between " lie, lay, lain," and " lay, laid, laid." But I 
now believe the confusion has taken root in the language, and 
that in another twenty years or so teachers will be accepting 
even " Lay down " (in the imperative) as inevitable. 

But the hammer is heard more often in correction of pro- 
nunciation than anything else. To retard as far as possible 
the deterioration of spoken English I have suggested that the 
vowels in unaccented syllables should be pronounced. At present 
these vowels are all becoming degraded into a uniform er 
sound. Among us there is a formal speech and an " informle " 
speech. During lectures the formal is the only one allowed, and 



the hammer-boy insists upon "away mstead of " erway," 
" question " instead of " quesch'n," " possible " instead of 
" posserble," " general " instead of " gen'rle," and so on. 

The subject of pronunciation is, of course, a wide one and full 
of technicality. But this particular proposal for reform, namely, 
that we should pronounce the vowels in unaccented syllables can 
be set before boys of twelve without any lengthy or technical 
exposition. In fact I set the whole business afoot among the 
Littlemen in five minutes, simply by pronouncing a few words in 
the formal way as examples. For instance, the following pairs 
of words do not rhjnne : 

table label 

fowl vowel 

boil royal 

garden pardon 

letter debtor 

Try the following also in formal pronunciation : " Seven," 
"message," "pavilion," "absurd," "courage," "interval." 

The boys see at once what is suggested, and the practice begins 
immediately. At the end of the first lesson — ^not a lesson on 
pronunciation, of course, but a period of Speeches — many will 
be proficient in the formal style. You may think it absurd when 
you first hear this formal speech. You may be offended at the 
pedantry of it. But no one unprejudiced will deny that it is 
more beautiful than the jabber and grunt of the everyday slip- 
shod pronunciation. It is comfortable to listen to also, because 
you hear every syllable clearly instead of having to guess at the 
half of every second word. Many visitors have said, " How 
clearly the boys speak, you can hear every syllable distinctly. 
But they pronounce some of the words rather queerly, don't 
they ? " " Yes," I say, " but remember that you only hear 
them so clearly because they pronounce unconventionally. This 
morning you have heard syllables carefully pronounced, which 
are generally slurred, slipped, or swallowed — ^left, in fact, to your 
imagination. The very fact that those syllables are pronounced 
gives an unfamiliar soimd to the speech." 

Readers may test the sound of this proposed formal speech by 
reading a page aloud and pronouncing the vowels in unaccented 


syllables. Most people will of course shy at such words as choc- 
o-late, en-gage-meni, period, e-lev-en, par-tic-u-lar-ly, but the use 
of some formal speech such as this is the only practical means to 
save us from that process of deterioration which will soon find 
s saymg— if indeed we do not already say— choklit, 'lem, 'tikly. 

This proposal that we should endeavour to make our spoken 
English more clear and more varied by pronouncing the vowels 
in unaccented syllables has been warmly opposed by several pro- 
fessors of phonetics. But so far as one can judge by their works 
these phoneticians are chiefly, if not solely, interested in record- 
ing the existing sounds of spoken English. Recording speech is 
one work, and an effort to improve the standard of speech is 
quite another work, and much vain controversy will be avoided 
in the near future among students of the language if that simple 
fact is borne in mind, If it is thought advisable to set up soon 
some official standard prommciation of English, Englishmen will 
be wise not to entrust this work entirely to phoneticians. Many 
of the well-known phoneticians in England to-day* are, or have 
been, associated with the reform of spelling. And the pronuncia- 
tion given by them in the books and pamphlets printed in their 
new spelling should be a warning to all men of taste. I, for one, 
shall never countenance the slovenly forms of London middle- 
class prommciation as standard English speech. 

If, then, the pronunciation of English is ever to be more clear 
and more pleasing to Usten to than it is to-day, people other than 
these satisfied phoneticians must insist on taking a hand. The 
council of reformers must be truly representative of educated 
English opinion. Dr. Bridges, the poet laiu:eate, is an eager 
advocate of the betterment of English, as distinct from the mere 
stereotyping of present speech as it is. But the point of view re- 
presented by him in his book " English Pronunciation " and in 
the formal speech practice suggested here is deserving of more 
active support than it can boast at present. 

Corrections in grammar and prommciation, then, are made in 
passing, in obedience to the rap of the hammer. The interrup- 
tions are not so frequent as you would suppose. Though of 
course some speakers need more ctorsection than others and some 

* Among others. Professors Daniel Jones, Noel Annfleld, and Walter 



hammer-boys are more exacting than others. At the start the 
mister gives the hammer to one boy, and he relinquishes it as soon 
as he misses a fault. The hammer often goes through the hands 
of six or seven boys during one period. 

If an error occurs with which the boys entirely fail to deal, 
the master may at his discretion either interpolate a correction 
or postpone the matter for more general treatment at a better 

In the course of the year's experiment a few conventions 
have grown into our practice and procedure. Some of these 
are interesting. Many boys found it impossible to compress all 
they had to say on one subject into the space of a single lectiure. 
Lectures vary in length from five minutes to about fifteen. Some 
boys are known to have skill in moulding their lectures so that 
they round off naturally in ten minutes. These the mister leaves 
alone. Others are known to lose thought of time, and to these 
the mister makes a sign when they should stop. Boys soon chose 
large subjects such as Railways, Aeroplanes, Dickens ; and these 
lectures were given in a series of chapters, or fits. We always 
call them fits. 

A lecture on Astronomy was given ia six fits, (i) Saturn and his 
Rings, (ii) Mars, (iii) Venus, (iv) Asteroids, (v) Jupiter and his 
Moons, (vi) Nebulae. The boy (aged 11) used no notes, and the 
speeches showed no trace of labour. He was, in point of fact, 
just telling us straightforwardly what he knew about the planets. 
Yet a verbatim record of his lectures would have made an excel- 
lent little handbook of astronomy for boys. The same speaker 
followed with five fits on Aeroplanes. We had by this time re- 
turned to the classroom (for it was now the Christmas term), and 
the blackboard was available for diagrams. Another speaker, 
also aged eleven and a half at this time, lectured on Modern 
Fighting Ships in no fewer than twelve fits. He not only showed 
a thorough acquaintance with all types of fighting ships and their 
armament, but proved himself really eloquent. From that time 
until the end of the year he has been recognized both by boys 
and masters as our principal lecturer. There is never time for 
more than six speakers, but whoever else might speak the boys 
insisted on hearing John W. in every lectiu:e-period. I find in 
the chronicles that he has spoken on : 


The Mechanism of a Zeppelin. 


The Royal Marines. 




Military Tactics. 

The Battle of Copenhagen. 

And on many other subjects. And in every case he is recorded 
as having received full marks for interest and full marks for style. 
The fact that most of these subjects are technical, and none of 
them the kind of subject likely to be suggested by a teacher to a 
boy of eleven, is most significant. And if any reader fears that a 
good " literary " style is not likely to be developed by speeches on 
such subjects, I can only tell him that his fears are groundless. 
Those who have heard these lectures agree that one could not 
desire a readier or more finished lecturer. 

Some taste of his quality will be found in the written lectures 
given in this book : The Condition of Affairs in Germany and 
Methods of Defending a Ship from Torpedoes and Mines. For- 
tunately it occurred to him at the end of the year to write on 
How to make a Speech or Lecture. The work is also included here. 
The last-mentioned essay was completed at one sitting in school 
hours during one of those breaking-up days when regular work 
is over, and the boys do more or less what they please. Some of 
the other boys were tidying their desks, some were playing Nine 
Men's Morris, and the room was full of a most admired disorder. 
But the writer, so far from being disturbed, was making as much 
noise as any one in the intervals of his writing. 

At one moment he walked up and down the room waving his 
arms and making a most unaccountable din. 

" Steady," I protested, " that surely isn't necessary." 

" Yes, it is, sir," he replied, " some one behind was talking too 
loud about a secret, and I had to drown his voice." 

The secret concerned a presentation they were making to my- 
self. It is a wise practice not to be angry at apparent breaches 
of discipline without inquiry ! 

This form Ila was an average form, yet it included six speakers 

o 97 


who might lecture with credit even to an adult audience. At the 
other end were some six poor speakers who preferred to remain 
silent if they could. The remaining ten or twelve were sound 
and reliable, willing to speak frequently, and always interesting ; 
but they were not so well informed as the first group. 

It has several times happened that a silent member, who has 
been thought " weak," has tried his voice one day in criticism or 
questions, discovered to his surprise that speaking is easy (for a 
Littleman), and turned out within a few weeks to be one of the 
best lecturers. 

There are not only long lectures which are divided into 
fits, and lectures which just fill ten minutes or so, but also 
speeches made up of disconnected observations on a variety 
of subjects. This kind of speech is called a Mixed Grill. If 
any teacher wishes for a graduated scale of effort culminating 
in the twelve-fit lecture, here it is : (i) Short question, (ii) Longer 
question, (iii) Criticism, (iv) Mixed Grill, (v) Single-fit lecture, 
(vi) Several-fit lecture. But we have found no need of syste- 
matic teaching in this matter. 

The Mixed Grill serves many purposes. It is a useful safety- 
valve for the talkative fellow. After his interruptions and 
proffered remarks have been quashed, his criticism cut short by 
the mister, and his reiterated questions ruled out of order, he 
finds he can bear it no longer. So he puts in for a Mixed GriU. 
He gets the ear of the house, and then " lets them have it " — says 
his say right out. It is a useful stand-by, also, for the silent 
member when the mister importunes him for a speech. He has 
no speech, cannot think of anything perhaps, so he puts in for a 
Mixed Grill and fills five minutes or so with general remarks, 
congratulations, reminders, suggestions, or what-not. The Mixed 
Grill also gives the master an opportunity for saying a few words 
without seeming to hold up the proceedings. In the space of 
five minutes one can give the orders for the day, make announce- 
ments, point out faults, bestow praise and even set the homework 
and distribute corrected papers. The only drawback to the 
master's making a speech or his use of the Mixed Grill is that it 
invites comparison between his fluency and that of the Little- 
men ! This may seem an affectation to some reader, but I can 
assure him from experience that it is not easy for an adult to 


speak as plainly and fluently as a Littleman. There is the 
hammer of Damocles too — and " No er ! " 

It is probable that this scheme of lecture-lessons could be 
carried right up the school as the boys grew older. But it is 
certainly advisable to start it with boys who are still Littlemen.* 
If they had a weekly lecture-lesson from the age of ten up to the 
age of sixteen, the self-consciousness which comes and spoils all 
about the age of thirteen or fourteen might be rendered less 
troublesome by the force of habits of self-expression. I mean that 
shyness, awkwardness, and the self-consciousness which often 
makes adolescent boys unintentionally rude and unsympathetic 
— ^these shades of the prison-house might close in less harshly 
upon a boy who " still is nature's priest," and the shadow fall 
ulmost imperceptibly upon one who looked ever about him upon 
the " vision splendid." 

But to start lecture-lessons with adolescents (and most public- 
school masters are chiefly concerned with adolescents) would be 
quite a different thing. Isolated speeches might be good, as in 
debating societies, but there would be little of the corporate 
spirit in the work. Criticism would not be so frank, brief, and 
to the point. In a word, the spontaneity of Littleman would not 
be the informing spirit. 

But I had, an encouraging experience in this respect with 
Belgian boys. There were nearly forty Belgians in the school, 
but the group I speak of numbered about twelve, and their 
ages ranged from eleven and a half to seventeen. They had 
been in England about three months. They were being taught 
English proper by other teachers ; and their periods with me 
were to be devoted, not necessarily to any subject, but to what 
one of my friends calls " Cookery." We began by trying to act 
" Thorr's Hammer."t First a scene was read and explanations 
given, and then it was acted on the stage with full complement 
of dress and properties. They enjoyed the acting of course, but 
understood only the bare plot. The reading was unintelligible 
both to readers and listeners, for blank verse at its simplest 
involves many imcommon words. Before long I found that the 
course would be nine-tenths explanatory teaching and one-tenth 

* A Littleman is any boy under thirteen. 
t Perse Playbooks, No. 1. 



acting ; a proportion which caused me to abandon the play after 
a first rough reading, for I hold only that teaching effective in 
which there is at least as much of practice as there is of instruc- 

It appeared that these boys knew hardly enough English to 
put one sentence together, but I decided to introduce them to 
Speeches. Some of the Belgians had attended lecture-lessons in 
Ila, so they knew the usual form of procediu-e. In the absence 
of a subject I suggested to one boy to narrate the story of Freyr's 
Wooing,* which they had seen played a day or two before. This 
was done, but the amusing underplot concerning Beggvir and 
the blessed pig was omitted. The relation of this underplot 
made the second " Speech'" By the time the third speaker was 
due the game was well afoot, for the mister announced. " Con- 
stant will now tell us the story of Black Beauty, Fit 1." The 
fourth speaker told a fairy tale. And with the fifth we made a 
start in lectures. He lectured on " The Pig." The title of the 
sixth was " Cambridge." And that brought the period to an end. 
It appeared after all that these boys could speak English after 
a fashion. Each spoke continuously for more than five minutes. 

One of the first conventions to arise among a company of 
boy-speakers seems to be a conventional way of beginning land 
ending a speech. The English boys generally open with " Sir, 
I have come up here this morning to tell you about so-and-SQjf 
and they plunge right into the matter forthwith. They close 
with, " That is all I have to say ^' ; or " That is all I will teU 
you in this fit about so-and-so." The Belgians soon foimd a 
little conventional phrase of their own which nearly all of them 
used. It always made me laugh. They laughed also, but they 
kept the phrase. " Sir, I will make a speech about so-and-so. 
I think it shall be very interesting for you." At the close it came 
again. " That is the end of my little speech. I think it has 
been very interesting for you." 

The chronicles record titles of nearly a hundred and fifty 
speeches by this group of Belgians alone. Some of them are 
stories and fairy tales from all sources, including Grimm, " Robin 
Hood," the " Arabian Nights," and " Robinson Crusoe." One of 
the eldest boys imdertook to tell the story of Monte Cristo. He 

♦ Perse Playbooks, No. 3. 


went steadily on day after day, until the chronicler lost count of 
the fits, and the mister simply announced, " Monte Cristo, next 
fit." He must have reached fit twenty when the school year 
ended and left him in mid-career. His younger brother, aged 
twelve, gave an account of their journey from Belgium, and an 
expert lecture, on " How to grow Chrysanthemums," from his 
own very thorough experience. He also gave us " The Tale of a 

This was a delightful true history of a cherry-tree which grew 
in the garden of the English house they now occupied. The old 
gardener — " He is a very silly old man with a white beard " — 
asked the boys' father to buy the cherry-tree in the garden. The 
father said he had no use for the tree, but would buy it on condi- 
tion that the silly old gardener sat in the tree to keep off the birds. 
Then the old man went to the boys' mother, and our lecturer 
acted as interpreter. The mother said that cherries were only 
cherries for her when they appeared upon a plate. So in the 
end the three boys bought the cherry-tree from the old man for 
four shillings. Jean himg a bell in the tree and connected it by 
a string to his bedroom window. When he wakened in the morn- 
ing he pulled the string, " and all the birds fly away and eat no 
more the cherries." The boys sold the fruit to their mother on 
a plate, at so much a pound ; and, at the last I heard, were on a 
fair way to regaining their initial outlay in addition to getting 
their share of the cherries. That, briefly told is the story of the 
cherry-tree. " I think it has been very interesting for you." 

Many of the lectures given by the Belgians were on the usual 
Littleman subjects. Submarines, Torpedoes, Birds, Flowers, 
Insects, Architecture. But they made an interesting develop- 
ment of the Mixed Grill. Several boys described tricks with 
paper and string, or asked conundrums, or tasked us with 
problems concerning donkeys, fox, geese, lengths of rope, railway- 
sidings, and the crossing of rivers. More than one lecture-lesson 
with the Belgians was given over entirely to these parlour tricks 
and problems. My only stipulation was that the demonstrator 
should, after the manner of a professional conjuror, talk all the 

But the Mixed Grill in the hands of one boy, H , became 

quite an art form. He stood up virith a diffident, semi-cynical 



air and made a series of observations, so obviously disconnected 
and unrelated that the amusement of the class, beginning with 
a smile, culminated in roars of laughter. And still the wonder 
grew how long he could go on thinking of fresh topics for his 
detached observations. It was a most amusing and finished 
variety entertainment. The class soon learnt to call eagerly for 

" H in a Mixed Grill." I will attempt to recall something of 

his style. But the quaint effect of his accent and his diffident 
air must be left to your imagination. 

" Sir, I will give a speech. I think it shall be very interesting 

for you. No, it is a Mixed GriU. M is telling very well 

his Monte Cristo. I think he will finish it some day. Perhaps. 

The flowers in this room will soon be dead. I think J will 

bring us some more. It is very good to have flowers. Yes. 
The swimming races was very good. I did not race. I am no 

good to swim. L is in long trousers to-day. His legs looks 

very silly. I think long trousers is no good for him. The people 
of Cambridge speaks very bad. They speak in the nose like this. 
[Here a good imitation of the Kimebridge accent.] Yesterday 
I went to take tea with my friends. Yes. It was a good tea. 
Plenty of jam and cakes. Soon I wiU go again. Yes. English 
gardens have no flowers. In Belgium we say of garden without 
flower, ' English garden.l Mr. Cook is laughing. I don't 
know why he is laughing. Albert is a silly ass, he has broken 
my penholder. Illb acts very well Shakespeare. I like to see 
Sir Toby and to hear sing the other chap. I don't know what 
he is call, but he sing very well ' O Mistress Mine ' . . ." And 
so on ad libitum. 

The serious-minded will find this ridiculous ; but it is at least 
as useful as the usual " exercise " composed of disconnected 
sentences. The errors do not, of course, go uncorrected. The 
hammer in the hands of another Belgian boy is always ready to 
pull up the speaker. There is also another piece of apparatus, 
used only by the Belgians. It is a massive wooden thing in the 
form of a letter H which is dropped with a great noise whenever 
a speaker misses an aspirate. This is called the Belgian H. 
But I made no pretence of correcting every single mistake, or 
the very idea of free practice in speaking would have been de- 
stroyed. The hammer kept them up to the mark in simple 


grammatical points, and from time to time I corrected and 
explained general errors, or mistakes which showed a misimder- 
standing, such as a confusion in sound between " afraid " and 
" frightened." For the rest they were simply learning to speak 
Enghsh by speaking it. Whatever happens it is essential that 
the speaking shall go on. Whether with English boys or 
Belgians the lectures are the thing of main importance in learn- 
ing the use of oral English, and if you hold fast to this all the 
lesser things such as points of correct grammar and right use in 
vocabulary shall be added imto you. 

This is perhaps not so obvious to all as one could wish, 
for many textbooks on composition still set out to teach 
first of all the rules, and only bring in actual sentences as 
examples to illustrate these rules ! Many a class of boys, 
who, if the teacher only realized it, could be freely lecturing 
in admirable English periods, have to undergo a laborious 
study of sentence-making, in which, after much exposition, an 
exercise is set which consists of sticking together jig-saw scraps 
of phrases. In this he is most skilful who can best conceal the 
joins. Chapters in some manuals of composition discuss at 
length the various figures of speech, and the boys marvel to 
encoimter, and struggle to distinguish. Metaphor and Simile, 
Allegory and Hyperbole, and even — if you can believe it — ^An- 
tonomasia and Paranomasia. In a book called " English Com- 
position " I have even found paragraphs on Epanaphora, Epi- 
strophe. Litotes or Meiosis, Prolepsis, Epanorthosis, and Aposio- 
pesis. I do not pretend to remember what all these terrific 
words mean, but I have copied them faithfully from a modem 
textbook of composition now in front of me. That soimds more 
like a catalogue of diseases than anything to do with this our 
mother tongue. These are, indeed, some symptoms of the 
disease of pedantry — a malady most incident to teachers. 

It is false to claim that these cumbrous phraseological mon- 
strosities of rhetoric are needed even for the special study of 
literature. Present-day teachers can do no better service to 
English letters than by encouraging the clear, straightforward 
saying of what one has to say. Simphcity and brevity do not 
perhaps exhaust the desirable qualities of style, but they come 
first. And clear style can only be poisoned by the use of those 



tricks, graces, paddings, and affectations which are the most 
noticeable result of successfully working through primers of 

Consider, moreover, whether the usual school custom of 
setting subjects to speak or write upon is not a deliberate 
fostering of the artificial and the insincere. Even if it is not so, 
it is at least an unnecessary limitation. Boys will find quite 
enough to talk about without any officious nursing. The follow- 
ing list of subjects is taken direct from the Littleman chronicles. 
They are not selected, but represent forty speeches given on seven 
consecutive lecture-days. I give them (except for the grouping 
of fits) in the order of the chronicles for the purpose of illustrating 
their variety. Only the first two subjects were suggested, and 
even those I submitted to the class and not to individuals. 

1. Eating in the Olden Times. 

2. The Willow Pattern. 
8. Maxim Guns. 

4. Nebul«. 
5-9. Aeroplanes (in five fits). 

10. Air-trains. 

11. Ways of Fishing. 

12. Police Traps. 

13. Work in Nature Study. 

14. Turbines. 

15. Foreign Stamps. 

16. Making an Ilond. 

17, 18. Meccano (in two fits). 

19. Preparations of the Germans. 

20. The Classroom Toy-shelf. 

21. Chapbooks. 

22. Military Tactics. 

23. Spring Guns. 

24. Musical Instruments. 

25. How to start a Long Poem. 

26. The Tidiness of the Form-room. 

27. The Largest Crane. 

28. On the Kaiser's Brain. 

29, 80. Self-Government (in two fits). 


31. Explosives. 
82. Early Arms. 

The remaining eight of the forty speeches chronicled for these 
seven days are long criticisms, " winding-up speeches," or Mixed 

How to start a Long Poem was advice from the author of the 
only long Littleman poem, at the time when he was engaged 
upon My Christmas Week at Little Pinewood End* 

The four lectures Ways of Fishing, Spring Guns, Musical 
Instruments, and Early Arms are all by one boy. His chief de- 
light is in strange gins and quaint contrivances. His ways of 
fishing were not the usual ones of net or rod and line. Nothing 
so commonplace would suit him. The essential point of the 
schemes he described was that one didn't fish in person at all, 
but set afloat upon the water some ingenious contrivance of 
planks and string and balancing things. A baited line dangled 
in the water, and was attached above to a bell or to the trigger 
of a pistol. " You then lie down and slack it, or you go about 
your work near-by, imtil suddenly you hear the bell ring, or the 
pistol go off bang. Then you take a boat and row out " 

This kind of fishing cannot have been indulged in either for 
the pleasure of the exercise or for profitable return. It must have 
been devised out of sheer joy in the working of home-made gins. 
One of our best illustrators brought to school one day a picture 
he had painted of a quiet meadowland by the river. On the bank 
a person was lying in a deck-chair while some contrivance 
floated upon the water. The picture was called " One of 
Johnny's Gins," His spring gims and his musical instrmnents 
were of a like character, ingenious and unorthodox. He could 
not have invented them all, but there is no doubt that he eagerly 
collected them from boys' papers, a jimior encyclopaedia, and the 
records of savage tribes — ^those " natives " so dear to the hearts 
of boys. 

The Early Arms, again, were all implements of death with 

something peculiarly and grotesquely effective about them. He 

drew them on the blackboard, and described with satisfaction 

the curve, or the twist, or some other diabolical characteristic 

• Perse Playbooks, No. 5. 



which made these daggers, spear-heads, or bayonets so deh'ght- 
fully horrible. 

This boy started very modestly, but presently became one 
of the three or four best speakers. At first he was very nervous, 
and on this account spoke too rapidly. But because of his 
wonderful speed the class always called for him if it happened 
that only a minute and a half remained before the clock struck ! 
Not one minute could be wasted. 

" Finish up, mister," I would say, " there remains but a 
minute and a half." 

" Johnny ! " the class would cry, " Johnny can easily do one 
in the time." And Johnny always did. I wonder which of my 
readers would care to answer such a call. 

In spite of this rapid nervous delivery there was never any 
fumbling. If he saw a blank ahead where a wanted word was 
missing, he went round it. Periphrasis, look you, come into 
use, not from study, but from a practical discovery of the need 
of it. And with all his hm-ry he was rarely pulled up for careless 
pronunciation. On the contrary, he was correct to a fault. So 
much so that he always pronounced the and a as the and a, which 
is not in accordance even with our formal speech. This and 
other overeareful peculiarities caused me to suspend the hammer- 
rap altogether during his speeches. The faults of nervous de- 
livery wore off in a little whUe, and though the rapidity remains, 
the correctness remains too, both tempered by much practice. 
And it is, as you may well believe, a pleasure to hear a lecture 
full of matter delivered briskly and in a clear and almost fault- 
less pronunciation.* 

If my readers could have been present last term they would 
have found it difficult to say whether they enjoyed most 
the swift description, aptly illustrated, of Johnny's innumerable 
Gins, or the fuller and more measured eloquence of John W. on 
the subject of Ships or Military Matters or Foreign Affairs — ^his 
speech never hurried, never dragging, but rounding off smoothly 
through period after period until, without any sign of conscious 
peroration, one foresaw the inevitable close ; or the thoroughly 
practical and equally humorous technicalities of Sir Bevis, or the 

* A lecture on Gins and two fits on Model Aeroplanes by the speaker 
referred to will be found at the end of this chapter. 


purely simple narrative of Mac, telling straightly what he knew 
of Two Birds.* 

Sir Bevis lectured always in a number of fits. His subjects 
were Astronomy, Aeroplanes, and Railways. He spoke upon 
any topic with equal ease, but one chiefly remembers these three 
— and his criticisms. His astronomy has already been men- 
tioned. The lectures on aeroplanes, though I can claim no 
expert knowledge, were certainly most thorough. Every pass- 
ing detail was made clear by diagrams on the blackboard, every 
technical term used was explained, and the whole subject divided 
among the fits with a masterly regard for " plan," " scheme," 
or whatever we teachers call it when we cut up a subject for 
purposes of outline. 

" That is all I have to say about gliders. In the next fit I 
will tell you of the experiences of the brothers Wright when they 
first applied engines to their craft." 

It is important to record that Sir Bevis (aged eleven and a 
half) did not by any means exhaust the material he had available 
for each fit. He it was who instituted " Questions," in addition 
to " Criticism." It was his custom to end a fit with these words : 
" I will not tell you any more in this fit, in order to allow time for 
questions." The class always had questions to ask — as Sir 
Bevis expected — and the master also rose to the occasion. For 
whether or not one's interests ran among aeroplanes. Sir Bevis 
could always stimulate one to a question or two. Boys would 
come up to the rostnmi one after another, and, with finger on the 
diagrams, ask for further information. In the end this lecturer 
found it necessary to give half his time to exposition and the 
other half to " Any questions ? " In fact the Littleman teacher 
on the rostrum and the Littleman class in front of him seemed to 
be so absorbed in one another and in their study of the subject 
that the official teacher found himself for the time being ignored. 
But this often happens on the Play Way. This boy's lecture on 
Railways was not nearly finished when term came to an end. He 
gave fits on " The Inside of the Engine," " The Wheels," " The 
Coaches," " The Track," " Signals," and so on. One of his 

* I do not here exaggerate a single particular, and those who heard 
the Speeches will bear me out. I have most carefully stated exactly 
what was to be heard. 



minor written lectures is given at the end of this chapter. Out 
of school Sir Bevis is above all things a Pirate Captain. I have 
in my possession a big book of his in fifteen chapters called 
" Littleman Pirates." It was written last winter, and records 
the pirate play of him and the band he led since June 1910. 
In 1910 he was only seven. 

Mac always lectured on Two Birds. He told us of the birds 
and their habits, described all he saw when he went bird-nesting, 
and handed round eggs for our inspection. But it was never 
explained on what principle, if any, he associated the two birds 
of each lecture. One day it would be " The Starling and the 
Blackbird," another day " The Thrush and the Wren." It was 
not because what he had to say of one bird would not fill the 
time. Because however short or however long his speech might 
be it was always on Two Birds.* Possibly this was an inkling 
of the comparative method of study. His delivery is simplicity 
itself, and his pronunciation of English is the most beautiful I 
have ever heard. It was pointed out to me by an observer that 
this speaker was also nervous. But one would scarcely have 
guessed it. The only trace of shyness was in his screwing up 
a little piece of paper in his fiLngers. This boy, like the others 
I have mentioned, was eleven years old, but very childish, and 
in his manner and appearance might have passed as a year or two 
yoimger. I mention this because, according to my experience, 
it appears that the younger a boy is the better he speaks. 

Tlie advice I would offer to the teacher in the matter of the 
boys' delivery is " Let well alone." There are of course scores 
of things one could teU them, but they are not necessary. I 
cannot remember having told these boys anything at aU about 
delivery. The obvious danger is that so soon as you mention 
delivery, or give any directions, you set the boys thinking of 
how they are speaking instead of giving their entire attention to 
what they are saying. This seems to me obvious, but I am afraid 
the warning is needful ; for if there is one thing teachers wiU do, 
in and out of season, it is — ^teach. Just as teachers think more 
of their subjects than of the boys, just as they prefer grammar 
and figures of speech and the study of sentence-structure to the 

* In Fit 2 of the written lecture given on p. 122 there are three birds, 
but that is exceptional. 


free making of original prose and verse, so I fear will those whc 
adopt Littleman Lectures soon fall into the habit of directing 
and correcting delivery, interfering with a boy's own plan of his 
fits, and in the end even going so far as to set the subjects of the 
lectures. Then when things go wrong, as they certainly will if 
Littleman's interest is set aside and his creative power of play 
harnessed to pull a load of formal rubbish, the teacher instead 
of loosening the bearing-rein will tighten it ! Littleman will work 
less well in proportion as his point of view and the needs of his 

Delight and liberty, the simple creed 
Of childhood, whether busy or at rest, 

receive less consideration. The learned taskmaster remarking 
this deterioration, will not think of blaming himself but will blame 
the boys, and will rule more and more strictly, and teach harder 
and harder. The upshot of this senseless procedure will be " As 
you were," and repression and compulsion will soon again be the 
order of the day. 

The delivery of one or two Littlemen after a time was marred 
by signs of striving after effect. I showed a mild disapproval 
and thought to discourage these precocious arts by laughing at 
them. The class took it up and there was a ready ridicule for 
conscious effects. As a teacher I ought to have been satisfied 
with this success. Is it not so ? But I was not satisfied, I was 
frightened. I saw that the hearers were not so much expressing 
a genuine disapproval as they were following my lead. The 
power of suggestion in the hands of a master who has the good- 
will of his boys is simply tremendous. One has to be careful 
how one uses such an influence. Encouragement to a boy to do 
his best is the one right use. Self-gratulation and scorn of 
weaker (or merely different) boys could as easily be encouraged 
by suggestion. Therein Hes the responsibility. Any one who 
has influence must realize that though it is his duty to exert 
it, his plain duty quite as often is not to exert it. 

Blackboard illustrations to the lectures are of two kinds, 
diagrams and pictures. The diagrams are necessary for a 
lecture on Periscopes, for instance, or Architecture. These the 
lecturer draws for himself as he requires them. But he must 



not be allowed to pause and turn his back to the class while he 
sketches on the board. He must take the diagrams in his stride, 
as it were, without interrupting his description. That is one 
advantage of their use. Another is that the diagram not only 
helps, but compels the lecturer to be explicit. For he can 
scarcely be vague and superficial in his account if he is making a 
diagram of the mechanism as he describes it. The disadvantage 
of diagrams is that they explain many points which it would 
have been better for the boy to describe in words. It is there- 
fore useful to recommend to a technical lecturer from time to 
time that he forgo the aid of diagrams for a fit or two. 

Apart from diagrams the pictures in illustration of a lecture 
are generally drawn by other boys. During a speech on Spies 
or lAon Hv/nting, or during the narration of a story the mister 
allows two or three of the class to come out and draw on the 
board in coloured chalks. What they hear they draw ; and if 
they misrepresent the speaker or let their imagination carry 
them away they generally hear of it during " Criticism." 

It was stated in the beginning that no apparatus is required. 
But though it is not strictly necessary there is nothing to 
be gained by forbidding it. The lecturer on birds likes to 
show the eggs he is describing ; and when a speaker tells how 
to make simple toys he is expected to give something in the 
way of demonstration. Object-lessons given by the boys are 
much more interesting for the class than those given by the 
teacher, and quite as full of matter. Once, after several boys 
had lectured on conjuring tricks and magic coins and so on, we 
proposed to set aside a whole lecture period for demonstration 
purposes. The idea was to get a table and put on it some bottles, 
corks, glasses, pins, coins, sheets of paper, and so on, and then 
invite speakers to come forward who could make a performance 
out of these materials. Examinations fell due and interfered 
with the project, but " I think it should have been very interest- 
ing for us." 

For the last two terms or so we have had two permanent 
platform properties without which the boys now feel that 
lectures are not really lectures. One is a httle round-topped 
table, like a garden simdial column. The speaker stands beside 
this. The other is a brass bell with a figure of Shakespeare for 


the hancTIe, and it stands on the table. The mister opens the 
proceedings by tinging the bell, and he always does so before 
announcing any speaker. Such trifling details as this have their 
part in giving character to the proceedings. The hammer, the 
bell, and the black table ; the lecturer standing in the middle 
of the platform with the mister sitting on one side and the marks- 
man on the other — that and the strict rule of our procedtire make 
up a kind of ceremonial which adds a dignity. And it takes out 
of our minds unpleasant associations of lessons in which the 
master, in solitary state upon the platform, faces his class in the 
stocks, and takes complete control. 

In the foregoing account many small and apparently trivial 
things have come in for notice. Toys, parlour problems, 
and amateur conjuring tricks have foimd a mention, and 
even blackboard scribbling has received official sanction. 
Most noticeable of all perhaps, to teachers, the small boy's 
passion for general information and his " love of hearing himself 
talk " have been taken seriously. Valuable school time has 
been sacrificed to sheer boys' talk, without so much as a pretence 
at teaching. 

Externally regarded the Piay Way certainly appears to 
consist largely of a busy preoccupation with trifles of all kinds. 
We cannot recite little poems without our sticks to beat time ; 
and when we chant 

Rolling, rolling, rolling 
O'er the deep blue sea, 

the little cork boat floating in the dish of water seems to claim as 
much attention as the ship which is the subject of the poem. A 
boy acting a king must have a crown, even if it be only a paper 
one. Mister makes a fuss if his bell is missing, and would rather 
wait while it is fetched than go on without it. This, as every 
child-lover knows, is characteristic of Littleman the world over. 
He must have it right. Similarly no speaker, whether master 
visitor, or boy, may omit the conventional opening, " Sir." * He 
will be " hauled " before he has said ten words. These are all 
trifles, but every facet of a tiny gem may envision the whole width 

* Other masters, and visitors too, have on occasion been found bold 
enough to deliver a speech, or to take a share in debate. 



of sky. Toys and games and conventional properties are small 
things ; but grammatical rules learnt by heart, and copy-books, 
and writing on one side of the paper only, are small things too, 
and not so entertaining. I had rather make a mountain out of 
a molehill than be the mountain in labour that brought forth a 
mouse. Coleridge might have said, 

He playeth best who loveth best 
All things both great and small. 

The criminal error of the spoon-feeding pedant is that in his vain- 
dealing he ignores the great things and elevates the small to 
their place. 

For all the care which teachers spend to give importance to 
such things as correctness in grammar, accuracy in mathematical 
calculations, and precision in scientific experiments, can it be 
claimed that the boys feel at all strongly the necessity for this 
care and accuracy ? Does it worry the average boy if his nouns 
are in the wrong case, or his verbs in the wrong mood ? We all 
know it does not worry him ; that is our grief. Yet who will 
deny that the same boys can be most punctilious about their 
rights, and about the observance of the most minute school 
customs ? Who has not seen a hot dispute arise over the break- 
ing of the smallest rule in cricket or football ? Who has not 
marked the strength of feeling a small boy exhibits against any 
bad form or false play even in the least particular ? Why this 
strange difference between in-school and out-of -school ? Don't 
ask the boys, ask the teachers. But the teachers cannot tell you 
— or rather they won't. It is a matter of interest. 

Once in asking a question about aeroplanes I called a tractor 
a propeller. I was pulled up at once by the boy-lectmrer. It is 
no use trying it on and saying, " Oh, well, it's all the same." How 
would you feel if your pupil regarded indicative and subjunctive 
with the same levity ? An illustrator once put one mast too 
many on a ship he was drawing. The lecturer happened to look 
round and see it. He took the duster and the chalk and put the 
matter right before proceeding. The description of engine 
wheels by numbers such as 2-4-0, or 0-6-0 is part of a mystery I 
have not mastered, but in spite of this I am sure no boy has ever 


been allowed to describe them wrongly or even to draw them 
wrongly, in my classroom ! 

Some one may ask me why the small boy's insistence upon 
accuracy in story-telling and in lectures and his demands for 
obedience to rules in games cannot be turned to good use upon 
his spelling, arithmetic, and so on. My good sir, it can be. It 
should be. It has been. That is one of the chief claims in this 
book. If a boy's heart is set upon anything he will see that he 
gets it right. If his heart is not set on it, the insistence is left 
to the master, whose heart is set on it. It seems clear enough. 
The Play Way is not a proposal for the relaxing of rules and 
discipline but a demonstration of the only way in which rules can 
be naturally enforced, and discipline made to live of its own 
accord. And that is by the operation of interest. But in educa- 
tion, as in life, the game must not be brought in only to make the 
rules palatable ! The play's the thing, and only the boy's real 
interest in it can make it worth the plajdng. 

From the first there has never been any doubt that the 
boys were interested in Speeches. If for any reason a 
Speech-period was turned to other uses, it had to be given 
back somewhere else. On the other hand, the Belgians 
succeeded in borrowing periods for Speeches which they never 
paid back. They had a lesson with me in the afternoons of 
Monday and Friday. For the corresponding Wednesday lesson 
I was off duty, and they were supposed to be worldng by them- 
selves in hall. One Friday there were references to recent 
speeches of which I had no recollection. Also I seemed to have 
lost touch with Monte Cristo ; and the other lecturers were a 
fit in advance of what was expected. Inquiry showed that they 
had held a lecture-lesson by themselves on the Wednesday. 
They said, " You were absent, sir, and so we make the lesson 
ourselves only." I pointed out that according to the time-table 
they should have been in hall. The mister for the day being 
then asked to give an accoimt of Wednesday's proceedings de- 
scribed a normal lecture-lesson. The chronicles showed also that 
the usual mmiber of speeches had been made. On the whole, 
it was quite clear that the stolen lesson had been the counter- 
part of any lecture-lesson at which I had been present. This 
was their first introduction to the possibilities of self-government. 

B iia 


And these Belgians were at this time the most unruly members 
of the school. 

Of course the boys, once they had left the hall and got into 
a room alone, especially since that room was in a separate build- 
ing, might have done as they pleased. And that is what they 
did ; for Speeches and good order pleased them better than idle 
chat and tomfoolery. The Belgian Littlemen found it difficult 
to believe that the time-table was correct. The same mistake 
occurred the following week ! In the end they were allowed the 
Wednesday period for Speeches, and I saw to it that they " made 
the lesson themselves only." 

The active interest taken in Speeches by another boy was 
remarkable. He was from New Caledonia, and had spent many 
years in France, and only a few months in England. It was 
nor surprising that he took small interest in the Shakespeare 
lessons, nor that he should in consequence have come to be 
looked upon as a slacker. He was one day present at a Belgian 
lecture-lesson. The following day he brought a list of subjects 
upon which lectures might be made. It includes the following ; 

Monuments of the World. 

Rare Animals. 

How different Things are made (e.g. Paper, Glass, etc.). 

Ways of Defence through Centuries. 

Ways of Transport through Centuries 

Ways of Hunting in Wild Coimtries. 

Comparison of Wars in the Past with the Present One. 

He also introduced among the Belgians two other topics upon 
which many Speeches were made. One was How I made my Boat. 
Any playboy who has spent a holiday near a pond must have 
made a boat, and ventured out in it. We heard tell of many 
escapades as interesting as c(iuld be foimd in boys' books. There 
were as many speakers on this subject as we had time for. Other- 
wise I should Uke to have told of the boats my brothers and I 
had made. In especial I remember a home-made punt in which 
we sailed on a shallow salt lagoon somewhere at the other side 
of the world. We had a stiff cowhide for a sail, and we went out 
to shoot black-necked swans and flamingoes. The boat, of 


course, leaked — ^home-made boats are poor fun if they don't 
leak — and we baled it out with the carpenter's hat. As we 
couldn't speak his language, nor he ours, this resource perhaps 
brought home to him as much as anything the flaws in his handi- 
work. While we were cruising about and trying not to sink, 
the men on the shore, some of whom had never seen a boat or 
a fish in their lives, killed and skinned a sheep, then built a fire 
and roasted it, basting the meat with salt water from the lagoon. 
And that brings me to the second inviting topic which this boy 
suggested. He began with How they cook Fish in New Caledonia. 
Another Belgian boy followed with How the Indians in North 
America cook a Pig. A third described How I cook Potatoes on 
the Seashore in Belgium. A fourth told us How a Boy Scout 
cooks Meat Out-of-doors. And this topic also lasted until the 
end of its period. 

The boy I speak of lectured well on every occasion. He 
gave us in several fits his journey from Australia, describing 
Bombay, Port Said, Stromboli, Messina, and other sights and 
places vividly, and without the tedious reflections of a travel- 
book. His triumph came when he lectured one day for a whole 
period on New Caledonia to the most part of three forms and 
their masters and several visitors, an audience of fifty. He dealt 
with the geography of the island, its mountains, rivers, towns, 
and the coral reef surrounding it ; he described the natives and 
their customs, their boats, and the pearl-fisheries. Animal life 
came in also, from the octopus to the birds ; and the coco-nut 
and date-palms were but the beginnings of an account of the 
fruits. Nickel-mines were to have been fully described also, but 
there was no more time. I have never heard a lecture so full of 

Not many boys have travelled so far and seen so much of 
life in other parts of the world. But there is no doubt that in 
any class of twenty-five boys you will find at least one who is as 
stimulating as this fellow. Boys are full of information, and 
always ready to come out with it under encouraging conditions. 

When one class has foimd the joy of Speeches the tale soon 
goes round, and other classes will soon be asking for Speeches 
also. We have found it a good plan when beginning Speeches 
with a new group to admit them as audience to a practised class. 



This gives them the chance of profiting by the experience of 
the proficient ones, and of adopting straightway the essentials 
of the procedure, without the need of inventing it all again. 
This plan also gives the beginners something of a standard 
to aim at. 

It is also very helpful to a class of beginners to bring in as a 
visitor I proficient lecturer from another class. The Belgians, 
after they had exhausted their first fund of stories, devoted a 
period or two to problems, riddles, tricks, and Mixed GriUs. It 
seemed to me that they were now at a juncture where they would 
find a difficulty in getting into the swing of regular subject 
lectmres. So I requested the woodwork master over the way to 
lend me three of my best lecturers for a few minutes. As we 
entered the lecture-room I asked, " What will you speak on ? " 
" Oh, anything," the boys replied. 

If an opportimity for Speeches suddenly arises there are 
always several boys ready to speak at once, and while the first 
few lectures are going on most of the other boys can prepare 
themselves. Even with those weaker brethren who need much 
encouragement and speak but rarely, the difficulty is not so 
much a need for preparation as the inability to think of a 

This raises the question of compulsion, for it may easily 
happen that some boys, lacking initiative, or having found them- 
selves not very good at lecturing, may prefer to listen to the will- 
ing speakers and take no part themselves. In extreme cases a 
boy may be really so nervous that it is a positive torture for him 
to have to stand up on the platform before the rest. I know 
very well what such feelings mean, having suffered from the 
same sensitiveness myself as a boy. And it is not very helpful 
to give such a boy ample notice, in order to give him time to 
prepare, saying, " You will have to speak next Monday." This 
may only fill him with dread apprehension. He makes earnest, 
almost feverish preparations to avoid disaster, as it seems to him, 
and all the time his heart sinks at the thought of the approaching 
ordeal on Monday. Many a kindly intentioned teacher, genial 
and encouraging, is in reality, for lack of a truly sympathetic 
understanding of Littleman, nothing better than a blind, 
blundering fool. And when I say that many a small boy, all 


unknown to his smiling teacher, sometimes goes through what 
can only be described as mental agony, I am not speaking 
without knowledge, for I have felt how 

Bet-ween the acting of a dreadful thing 
And the first motion, all the interim is 
Like a phantasma or a hideous dream. 

Let us avoid at all costs the imposition of this torture upon 
any Littleman. If a boy has spoken several times already, he 
may in his present retirement be considered merely slack. The 
mister can generally get him to resume activity. But those who 
have not yet ventured must be given time. The master may 
encourage them to make criticisms &st, and after a while they 
will offer to make a speech. So long as a boy is left to take the 
decisive step of his own accord he is not suffering any mental 
agony. It is having the ordeal thrust upon him which causes 
him dread. Therefore refrain from persuading Littlemen to 
swim by throwing them into the water. 

I do not wish to give the impression that the making of 
Speeches is ever a trial for boys. But before they have tried it 
some of them are apt to think it will be. That is my point. 
Any one who sees little boys diving from high places and sporting 
in deep water may say, " These little beggars don't know the 
meaning of fear." But the teacher who a week or two before 
stood for half an hour waist-deep in the water, gently 
persuading the same little beggars to get wet above the knees, 
knows this cheery point of view to be both false and mis- 

From this aspect there is something to be said for the 
question of that American visitor, " How do you teach them 
to be natural ? " And the answer is still the same, " Leave 
them as much as possible to do things in their own time and 
in their own way." Of course the teacher must see to it that 
there is always something before the boys ready and suitable 
to be done. In saying that the master may encourage a shy 
boy to make criticisms first, I do not mean that the master 
should stand up and say cheerily in front of the whole class, 
"Now come along, George, old chap." Nothing could con- 
ceivably give a shy boy a more difficult opening. He imagines 



that all eyes are upon him, and, if he hesitates at all, they soon 
are. As the master is merely an intelligent onlooker during 
Speeches he may sit among the boys — ^like the Village Black- 
smith. Then, as some error or obscurity arises in the Speech 
the master may comment on it quietly to the retiring fellow 
beside him, and at the end of the Speech, when opportunity 
for criticism is given, say, " Ask him what he meant by that." 
Without thinking about himself the boy does so, and having 
thus found his voice in a question will in a day or so make 
criticisms from the rostrum — ^and so to Speeches. 

The master must at all times be very sensitive of any faltering 
due to nervousness in any boy, and " help him out " in an easy 
matter-of-fact tone. 

A fact which seems to have escaped the notice of many is 
that most nervous speakers are only really nervous at the start 
of a speech. His fumbling and stuttering makes the speaker 
worse, and even though he may not in his mind feel any 
occasion to be nervous, he finds that some strange physical 
infirmity is interfering with his breathing operations. But if 
some diversion should occur such as prolonged applause or 
laughter, the speaker is able to collect himself in the interval, 
and can then Speak afterwards without a trace of nervousness. 
In public places this useful diversion cannot be planned, and 
so the poor nervous starter must get through as best he can. 
But in the classroom it is possible for the master, when a 
speaker on mounting the rostrum is momentarily upset by the 
expectant silence, to create a diversion in some way, in order 
to give him time to collect himself and to get his breath. 
Many a time I have made apparently senseless interruptions 
just as a speaker was about to start, much to the annoyance of 
the mister. But these officious interruptions were deliberate. 

Many boys will not need such a tender thoughtfulness from 
the master. But a little boy's sensibility is a frail mechanism, 
and infinite tact is one of the chief qualities required in a play- 
master. The Littlemen are only children after all. 

But when most of the class have found their legs what is 
to be the arrangement of the Speeches ? Do the boys each 
speak in turn vmtil the roimd of the class is completed, or do 
they speak or remain silent at their will ? Neither plan would 


be satisfactory. On the first method some one would certainly 
be out of his order when he wanted to speak, and another 
would be called upon when he didn't want to speak. On the 
second method some of the boys might never volunteer at all. 
It is best to leave the solution of such a matter to the boys. 
If you give them self-government during lecture-lessons they 
will soon settle the procedure with perfect fairness and to the 
satisfaction of all. For though a master may try to satisfy 
the class, a mister must satisfy them, for his position depends 
upon it. 

With us the best speakers were ready at all times, and in fact 
were called for on almost every occasion. Others came out 
frequently enough of their own accord. A few were persuaded 
by the canvassing mister when he thought they had been silent 
long enough. And only a very small number remained to be 
" dealt with." The boys' system of dealing with the laggards 
was to announce the names of those who had not spoken for 
three weeks or so, and indicate that they would be expected 
to make an appearance during the current week. But such 
was the goodwill among them that the culprits would often 
turn the tables upon the ruling caste, and protest, amid cheers 
and counter-cheers, that they had had a speech in mind for 
weeks, but could not get a word in because A, B, and C spoke 
on every occasion ! This was largely true, and a good mister 
would often have to disregard the cries for a certain popular 
speaker until some others had had their turn. The canvassing 
mister should have in hand a waiting list of at least six 

Desiring to have some record of Littleman lectures I 
sought the services of a shorthand Tvriter. The boys of 
course were not told of this, but they soon found it out. 
It made no difference, however, to their speaking. So little 
was thought of it that not one even mentioned the matter 
to me afterwards. But the fluency of the speakers was too 
much for the shorthand writer. The rule of "No er" was 
perhaps more exacting than she had been accustomed to. The 
restilt was a mere report of the lectures and not the desired 
verbatim record. The services of an expert were then 
obtained, and some of the lectures in the following pages are 



the verbatim reports he made. This man, who had had 
many years' experience of public speakers, said that the 
boys were much to be complimented on the clearness and 
fluency of their speech. " I only wish," he observed, " that 
all speakers were as easy to take down. It is not a question 
of speaking loudly, but of speaking distinctly." Another 
virtue which I am sure must have been noticeable is that 
the boys have learnt to speak in sentences which make 
good Enghsh when written down. Most adult speakers I 
have heard get themselves involved in periods of mixed con- 
structions from which they can only get free by — ^making a 
dash for it. 

For the purpose of record also the boys were called upon to 
write lectures following their oral style. As this was only done 
in the last week or so of the last term, there is not much material 
to select from. The works given here, however, may be read 
as fair examples of Littleman Lectures. It need hardly be said 
that there can be no comparison between the interest of these 
printed speeches and the interest of a like speech orally delivered. 
The words are there, but the life of the speaker is not. Unlike 
essays, these pieces cannot be expected to reflect their authors. 
Most of the errors which the reader will note in the following 
pieces would have been corrected by the hammer-rap. The 
repetition of " it " in this sentence, for example, would certainly 
be noticed, " If it falls off the branch she gets angry with it and 
makes it do it all over again until it can fly properly." The 
fxunbling in the opening paragraph about the French partridge 
could not be put right with a word ; but the hammer-boy would 
rap and cry, " Don't muddle," or " Say that again," and the 
speaker would mend his style at the second effort. Many 
sentences which will not pass in print are quite permissible when 
spoken ; such as this of the shark on deck. " He struggles and 
smashes about, and knocks people down for about half an hour," 
because the speaker makes the necessary pause after " down." 
Many unsatisfactory turns of phrase would escape the notice of 
the hammer-boy altogether ; and where it is a matter of any 
subtlety the master would be wise not to break in. Time and 
practice will mend many imperfections. It must be remembered 
that these are boys of eleven and twelve speaking extempore, 


and it is not fair to judge their spoken periods according to the 
canons of prose style. 

Of this lecture on Birds the first fit is the verbatim report as 
taken down by the shorthand writer. The other two fits were 
written by the boy. 


Fit 1. The Sparrow Hawk and the 
French Partridge 

I am come up here to-day to make a speech on two birds 
which you find quite often about Cambridge. 

I wUl deal first with the sparrow hawk. It is a rarer bird 
than the kestrel hawk, and builds a larger nest, and much higher, 
than the kestrel. It lays from three to five eggs, which are green 
and have brown blotches upon them. This is an egg of the 
sparrow hawk. [Egg handed round.] When you are climbing 
for a sparrow hawk's nest you will probably see the sparrow hawk 
sitting there ; until you get within two yards of her she wiU not 
get off, and if she has yoimg ones you will probably get pecked 
two or three times before you can push her off. She feeds upon 
mice, and very often yoimg partridges. That is why, if you 
look at a keeper's hanging-tree, where they nail all the skins of 
their enemies, you will often see a sparrow hawk nailed to the 
tree, because it has taken the young partridges or pheasants. 
But really it does more good than harm, as it feeds on rats, moles, 
and other vermin. The young of the sparrow hawk are born 
with very nearly all their feathers on, and it only takes about two 
weeks before they can leave the nest. When they first leave the 
nest they are brought by the mother bird into some valley with 
grass. They then rim about for some time, and are then given 
their first flying lesson. The mother goes to the end of a 
branch and gets the young one to fly to her. If it falls off the 
branch she gets angry with it and makes it do it all over again 
until it can fly properly. The sparrow hawk is rarer than 
the kestrel. Though you always see the kestrel taking a rat 
or mouse, it really takes far more pheasants than you think 
it does. The reason the sparrow hawk is rarer than the 
kestrel is because it has been killed so much by keepers, and 



if it goes on being killed, very soon there will not be any sparrow 
hawks left. 

The French partridge is the second bird I will deal with this 
morning. It is called a French partridge for the simple reason, 
not that it is a French bird, but because the ordinary partridge 
and the French partridge vary, because the ordinary partridge 
is very much different.* The French partridge has red legs, and 
you can either call it a red-legged partridge or a French par- 
tridge, but people do not often care to say, " I have shot a red- 
legged partridge." They think it better to say, " I have shot a 
French partridge.' It makes a nest of grass on a flattened-out 
space in the grass, and lays six to twelve eggs. The egg of the 
French partridge is putty-coloured, spotted with bits of red, and 
sometimes a smear of brown. The other distinguishing feature 
of the French partridge is that whereas the French partridge runs 
a long way, if you are chasing him, before he flies, the ordinary 
partridge, if he sees any one, jumps up straight away and flies 
away. It can go farther than the partridge as it has larger 
and longer wings. The French partridge's young, different to 
the ordinary partridge, are not bom with their feathers on, but 
they very quickly get their feathers. About a week after they 
are bom the feathers appear on the young ones. The mother 
feeds them the whole time with little pieces of wheat and other 
small grain. She will sit on the nest until you nearly touch her 
whilst she has young ones. She likes to have her nest near the 
roots of a tree, with holes between the roots, and if any one goes 
near, the young ones can run in between the roots of the tree and 
you will not find them. That is all I have to tell you to-day 
about these two birds. 

Age 11.9. E. P. M. 


Fit 2. The House Sparrow, the Sand Martin 
AND THE Robin 

First I will speak to you about the house sparrow. This 
dingy little bird is seen everywhere, in and out the traffic looking 

* The fumbling here is doubtless due to the change of subject from 
one bird to the other. 


for a piece of food. If you go to the country you will see a very 
different sparrow. He will be a beautiful brown bird with a 
white bar across his wing and a glossy black throat, an alto- 
gether neat little bird. 

The hen makes a nest in any sheltered nook in a house, where 
she lays six grey eggs spotted thickly with black. 

When the young are gone the mother rears another brood all 
through the year. 

I will now deal with the sand martin. This is the smallest of 
all martins and is the most quaint and interesting. This bird is 
a sand colour with a very delicate thin black beak and little 
shining eyes. With his little beak he digs a hole in the sand 
about four feet long. At the end of this he builds a mud nest and 
lines it with feathers. In this four white eggs are laid. When 
the young come out of the egg they are kept in the nest and you 
can often see them sitting at the mouth of the hole. When you 
go to look at them they scuttle to the back of the hole. 

I will now speak about the last bird, the robin. This is 
always a favourite among mankind because he is so tame. In 
April he will find a mate and, like the bullfinch, pairs for life. 
The male and female robin go about to look for a nesting site. 
The nesting site of the robin is a hole or a stump of a tree thickly 
covered with ivy. In this the mother places a pretty little nest 
with moss and twigs on the outside and feathers and hairs on the 
inside. The nest takes about a fortnight to build and when it 
is finished the hen sits on it and lays five white eggs thickly 
mottled on top with red. When the young are ready to fly 
fierce conflicts take place between the young and parent birds 
as to who shall have the old estate. 

I may as well tell you that if any of you wish to have a tame 
robin, you have only to feed him well in the winter and he will 
always love you and nest in yoiu* garden. (I have one.) 

Age 11.9. E. P. M. 


Fit 3. The Wild Duck and the Hedge Sparrow 

First I wish to say something about how birds' eggs are 
formed. When they are laid they are the yolk just in a soft 



skin and about thirty minutes afterwards the shell is formed. 
And if the sun is shining on it the colour and spots are 

I have a French partridge's egg which was very nearly hidden 
from the sim and in consequence only a little part of it was 
coloured and spotted. Therefore it is like this : 

I will now tell you the most important facts in the habits of 
the wild duck. It makes a nest in rushes or under a hedge or bush 
on the bank and lays from ten to fourteen eggs, green blotched 
with light buff colour. The young are hatched in eighteen days. 
As soon as they are hatched they swim away with the mother in 
search of food. 

I will now tell you about the hedge sparrow. It is not really 
T, sparrow but a linnet, because it is much more graceful in its 
movements than its cousin the house sparrow. The hen makes 
a beautiful nest with moss on the outside and hairs on the inside. 
Four to six pale sea-blue eggs are laid. In seventeen days the 
young appear and it is twenty-one days before they venture 
from the nest with the mother. 

Aged 11.9. E. P. M. 

The following Speech on Gins was fully reported by the short- 
hand writer. But the speaker has such a rapid delivery that a 
few mistakes in taking down were unavoidable. In correcting 
these on the transcript the boy has made a few other altera- 
tions, but they are so slight as to be negligible. 

The lecture on Model Aeroplanes which follows was written 
by the same boy. It relates the practical experience he gained 
with his father while experimenting with these craft. 





I am here to make a speech on gins The simplest kind of gin 
is a noose. It is used for catching rabbits or cats. It is made of 
brass wire. Steel wire will not do. When the cat or rabbit 
goes through her run, she sticks her head into the noose, the 
noose tightens, and in a few minutes the cat is dead. 

Another trap, for catching fish, is used in Australia. Two 
natives wade out into a stream holding each end of a long net. 
One walks to the opposite bank. Then they begin to walk down 
stream. The one on the opposite bank gradually brings round 
his net until he is on the same side as his friend. The net is then 
parallel to the bank and is gradually worked into a small circle 
containing the fish, the natives being careful to press the edges 
of the net close to the bank or else the fish would escape. The 
women then arrive and throw the fish on the bank. 

I will now tell you about a hippopotamus trap. The first 
thing they do when they start to make a hippopotamus trap is 
to dig a big hole in the groimd, driving large spikes into the 
bottom. They then cut some yoimg trees and place them over 
the top. On this they place brushwood covered with grass. 

When the hippopotamus comes blundering along he walks 
over this and crashes in ; falling pierced on the spikes. The 
natives come clambering down the sides by means of rough 
ladders and feast on him, often getting right into his inside. 

Another trap is a mole trap. Here is the earth thrown over 
a mole burrow. You get a piece of wood about 2 ft. long and 6 in. 
wide, with a stone lashed on the top and two or three spikes 
underneath. It is supported at the top end by two sticks which 
have been lightly driven into the mole nm. As the mole comes 
strolling along the rim he disturbs the sticks, which give way, 
and the spikes fall on his head, fixing him into the ground. 

You all know an elephant's trap. It is simply a hole dug in 
the ground exactly like the hippopotamus trap and is covered 
with brushwood. 

Another way of catching elephants is to form a keddah, that 

* The rapid description of each gin was made clear by a blackboard 



is to say, a strong enclosure with an entrance at one end barred 
by a gate. To this are attached long lines of ropes in the shape 
of a V with flags attached. When a herd of elephants is dis- 
covered a large party of natives go out on elephants and on foot 
and drive these wild elephants towards the enclosure. When 
the elephants find themselves penned in by the ropes and waving 
flags they become terrified and rush madly towards the keddah. 
The big gate is swung open and the herd dashes madly in. The 
large bulls of the herd hurl themselves against the stockade, 
generally without effect, although sometimes a savage old bull 
will smash his way through. When the wild elephants have 
quieted down several tame ones with keepers on their backs 
enter the stockade — ^they hustle a wild elephant towards a large 
post to which it is firmly attached by its legs with ropes. Then 
they are tamed in the usual way. 

Another way to catch mice and rats is to get a big wooden box. 
You reduce the size of the lid until it just loosely fits the inside of 
the top of the box. You then balance it by means of two rings 
which are passed over a steel rod which runs right through both 
sides of the box. You then place your bait in the centre of the 
hd. You next lean a piece of wood against the side of the box 
as a ladder up which the rats can run. When all is ready you 
place a brick upright on the bottom of the box and fill with water 
up to the top of the brick. The first rat comes running up for 
the bait and collapses into the water and swims for the brick. 
He sits there squealing until a second rat comes to see what is the 
matter and he too falls into the water. Finally, if you are lucky, 
you have the whole box full of struggling rats, and then you can 
fill up with water and leave them there comfortably to be 

Another way of catching rats is to get what is called a steel 
trap. Two pieces of steel are fixed with a spring on each side 
attached to a solid frame. These are kept open by a small steel 
rod upon which is placed some cheese or tempting bait. The rat 
comes along, nibbles the cheese and disturbs the steel rod, the 
jaws of the trap then close together and hold the animal's nose, 
generally with fatal effect. When caught by the legs they have 
been known to gnaw them clean off in their efforts to escape. 

There is another trap, the ibex trap. In the same way as for 


elephants there are long lines of ropes with coloured tapes and 
flags attached to them placed in the form of a V. The hunters 
surround the unfortimate little animals, tearing along screaming 
and shouting, -with waving of flags and sometimes firing of guns. 
At the end of the enclosure there is a marshy piece of ground into 
which the animals prefer to jump and be choked rather than be 
killed by the spear. 

Another trap is a shark trap. The hook is large, somewhat 
resembling a butcher's hook, and it is fixed on a piece of fine 
tempered steel chain, generally about eight yards long. On the 
hook is himg a fat piece of salt pork. Then they have a very 
strong rope fixed roimd a belaying pin at the stem of the ship, 
with plenty of slack on the deck. They then drop the bait into 
the water, lowering it about three feet deep. Here comes the 
shark with his mouth open, and generally he has a cruise round 
the ship at first, and finally decides to take the bait. He opens his 
horrid mouth, turns slightly on one side and makes a grab at it. 
Then comes a jerk on the line, and the line is let out. Soon the 
line is drawn in again, but he makes another bolt, and finally he 
is too tired to do anything else. The crew hold on, a rope is 
thrown over the shark's tail and pulled tight, then it is fixed to 
the main boom, the shark is pulled up and he struggles on the 
deck on which he is thrown like a log. He struggles and smashes 
about, and knocks people down for about half an hour. It is 
advisable not to go too near the tail of a shark for a shark has two 
business ends. The tail can knock a man flat. After a desperate 
struggle they succeed in cutting off his tail, and finally his head, 
but he will still continue to jump about after his head has been 
cut off, and an account tells of how two hours after a shark's 
head was cut off he was still jiunping about and his heart was 
still beating. I think this is all I have to say for the present. 
Age 11, G. M. J. 


Fit 1 

I am here to make a speech on the model aeroplane. It is 
a pretty sight to see the model aeroplane gliding about in 

the air. 



There are several points to be considered when you start to 
make a model. 

The first and most important is the type. The best type for 
all-roimd work is the Wright type monoplane. This type has 
an elevator in front and a large main plane about six inches in 
front of the screw. The size of the plane must be according to 
the size of the machine. 

The best kind of wood for the frame of the plane is American 
white wood. The wood for the stick is deal. For this you take 
a strip of wood about two feet six inches long and quarter of an 
inch square. At the end of this you lash a piece of brass (see 
Diagram I). Through one end of the brass you drill a small hole. 
You then bend the brass until it forms a right angle (see Diagram 
II). or better, bend it before attaching it to the stick. The brass 
is attached to the stick as shown (see Diagram III). At the other 
end of the stick you lash a hook (see Diagram IV). 

Now I will tell you about the making of the plane. You take 
two strips of wood about eighteen inches long and half of an inch 
broad and one-sixteenth of an inch thick You lay these side by 
side. You then take two small pieces of wood about three and a 
half inches long, three-eighths wide and one-sixteenth thick and 
lay these so that each end touches one of the strips and nail 
them together. You then nail two others in the same way at 
equal distances from the middle (see Diagram V). Now your 
plane is ready for the aero silk. The silk may first be stretched 
on a stretching frame to enable you more easily to stick the 
frame of the aerofoil on it (see Diagram VI). 

Having thoroughly covered the top of the frame with thin 
glue you place it top down upon the stretched silk and press 
down until it sticks tightly. You then cut round the silk with 
a sharp pair of scissors. Having done this you bring the over- 
lapping pieces round and glue them underneath. Let this dry 
thoroughly and there you have your nearly finished aerofoil. 
The next thing is to put some camber on the wing (see Diagram 
VII) and also give it some dihedral angle (see Diagram VIII) 
or perhaps it is better to bend the angles before gluing on the 
silk. Then yoiu- plane is ready for use. 

Now I will tell you how to make the screw. Take a piece of 
birch wood one-sixteenth of an inch thick, seven inches long and 


ten-sixteenths of an inch wide. Put this in boiling water for 
about ten minutes and then take it out and twist it into the 
shape of a propeller. Hold it in position for about ten minutes 
over a flame and it will still remain in position. Then you fix a 
piece of wire (with hook on end) to the screw (see Diagram IX). 
Pass the hook of the screw through the hole in the brass fin 
the one end of the stick, and stretch eight strands of elastic from 
hook to hook. Then fix the plane to the stick (see Diagram X). 
Wind up the elastic a number of times and launch it (see Diagram 
XI). It will probably crash down on its nose. If it does push 
the elevator (see beginning) forward and by and by it will go 
sailing away in a circle. It is a poor machine that will not fly 
100 yards. 


Fit 2 

I am here to continue my speech on model aeroplanes. 

The model aeroplane of which I am going to tell you to-day 
is the racing type. 

This type can travel at about thirty miles an hour. It has 
a long stick and a rear elevator. It is sometimes strengthened 
by wire lashed to the stick to strengthen it. The planes of 
these are sometimes made of wood planed very thin with the 
smoothing plane. This plane can be stained any colour, but 
it must not be painted. The prettiest colour to stain these 
planes is blue. 

These machines will not travel very high. Sometimes the 
stick can be strengthened by lashing bow-shaped pieces of wood 
to it. You can buy little rings to put on the screw to prevent it 
from scraping against the brass. These machines are capable 
of flying 150 yards if wound up 500 times, but it is difficult to 
start them and requires a good deal of practice. If there are 
many people about it is dangerous to fly them as they might 
easily spear some one. This type of plane is easy to make, but 
they do not always glide down so well, and sometimes come 
down on their noses. Their screw is much the same as the 
Wright type. 

Now I will tell you about the single plane machine without 

I 129 


any elevator. This type has the plane in the centre of the stick, 
but it will not rise high and will not glide very well and is very 
difficult to manage. The planes of this type, like all wooden 
planes, are very liable to spUt, and sometimes they will split 
clean in half. During the four months in which we were ex- 
perimenting with wooden planes no fewer than twelve planes 
split at the ends. 

Now I will tell you about the two-screw tjrpe. The sticks 
of these types are of two kinds. The first kind has cross-pieces 
at one end (see Diagram XII). This type is capable of travelling 
200 yards and twenty miles an hour. They have built-up aero- 
foils and are good all-round machines. 

Another type is in the form of a triangle (see Diagram XIII) 
with the screws at the broad end. They can be made extremely 
long and fast flyers. 

This is all I have to say to-day about model aeroplanes, for 
an ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory. 

Age 11. G. M. J. 

[Written Lecture] 


Fit 1. A Lecture on a Rail Motor on the Kent and 
East Sussex Railway 

I have come up here this morning to tell you something of 
a very interesting Rail Motor. The owning company, which only 
operates twenty-four miles of line, is wonderfully modern in most 
of its rolling stock, and this little Rail Motor shows that the 
company is not afraid to make experiments. 

The boiler is at the front, and is vertical to economize space, 
as you find in steam road wagons The cylinders are five and a 
half inches in diameter, and operate on to the front axle. The 
car runs on four wheels, the front pair being drivers. It seats 
thirty-seven passengers, and the seats are arranged like those on 
the top of a 'bus. At the end there is a compartment for carry- 
ing chiu'ns of milk, as this railway serves an almost purely 
agricultural district. In this compartment the passengers' 
luggage — ^usually of a very light character — is carried. 



There Is a guard and a driver for this Rail Motor, and the 
guard issues and collects the tickets, acts as porter and does all 
the " odd jobs." 

There are no stations, but the Rail Motor is equipped with a 
pair of steps reaching to the ground. When you want to catch 
the " train " you watch from yoiir cottage window till you see it 
coming, and then go and stand by the side of the Hne, and hold 
up your umbrella, and stop it in the same way as you would stop 
a 'bus in the street. The guard then lets down the steps and you 
get up. He then asks you to buy a ticket, which you do, and he 
writes down on a slip of paper where you want to go to, and 
hands it to you. He often forgets to take your money. He then 
gets down, tells the driver that you are inside, and gets on again. 
Then the train starts. 

It has no fixed time for starting, but as soon as it arrives at 
one end, it starts to go again to the other and goes backwards 
and forwards like a tramway-car. 

When cans of milk are to be carried, the farmer draws his cart 
across the lines to stop the train. Sometimes it is nearly dinner- 
time, and the driver does not want a delay, so he goes straight 
for the cart. The farmer, to prevent an accident, draws his cart 
off the rails, and the train goes on, leaving the farmer to swear 
and wait for the next train. Sometimes the next train does not 
arrive for several hours. 

This Rail Motor is very interesting, as being one of the 
smallest in the world. 

Next time I will tell you about another kind of Rail Motor on 
the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. 

Age 12.2. F. G. C. 


Fit 2. A Lecture on a Rail Motor on the London, 
Brighton, and South Coast Railway 

In the last Rail Motor that I described the motive power was 
supplied by the coach itself, but in this case the power is supplied 
by a separate engine. 

The engine is an old terrier tank engine built in 1872 for the 


South London section of the Une, which was then in very bad 
condition, and quite unfit to bear a heavy locomotive. 

The engine has 4 ft. drivers, and is a 0-6-0, though the engine 
which I have chosen as my example has the front drivers removed 
and a pony truck substituted. Thus it is a 2-4-0. 

It is so small that when you see it coming into the station the 
coach towers over the little engine. 

It is so small that the driver covdd not see the signals when 
going the other way, so a compartment is supplied for him at the 
other end of the coach, where all the levers are duplicated. 
When he is in that compartment the fireman is still in the cab of 
the engine. 

The coach is divided into two compartments, smoking and 
non-smoking. The seats are arranged as those on the top of an 
omnibus, and are cane-covered. 

The stations at which the trains stop are called halts. They 
consist of a plain platform without any shelter. They rarely 
have even a seat. When the coach comes along there is a train 
attendant who gives out the tickets. If there are no passengers 
waiting at the halt, the train does not stop. 

These little motor trains have vacuum brakes fitted, and a 
Rail Motor going at full speed can stop in the length of one of 
these halts. The regular trains do not stop at these halts. 
Sometimes when there is much trafiic on the line they couple a 
coach on to the front of the engine, and the engine driver, when 
going forwards, has to lean out of the cab to see the line ahead, 
so small is the engine. 

This engine and coach form one of the most interesting of all 
Rail Motors, and any one staying in the suburbs served by the 
London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway will often have seen 
these little trains. 

This is the second kind of Rail Motor, having the motive 
power in the form of a separate engine. 

These are the chief forms of Rail Motors, and I will not teil 
you anything more in this lecture. 

Age 12.2. F. G. C. 



[Written Lecture] 



As I have told you about torpedoes and mines and how 
deadly they are, you may think that there is no adequate way 
of defending a ship from them. As a matter of fact there are 
many ways, especially in the case of mines, which we will deal 
with first. The first way of defending a ship against mines is by 
sweeping. This is done in several ways. Two boats may go 
out with a chain between them and in company with a torpedo 
boat. When a mine fouls the chain it either explodes or gives a 
jerk to the chain. In the latter case the ship tells the T. B. 
by signals where the mine is and the T. B. fires at it and 
explodes it. 

The mine sweepers have a kind of framework sticking out all 
round them as they do not need to go fast. Sometimes this 
framework is only in front of them and in a few cases it is not 
there at all. This framework explodes the mines before they 
are able to reach the ship. Much time, is however, wasted by 
sweeping where there are no mines. 

Now objects just under the water can be seen better from a 
height, so an aeroplane, captive balloon or airship is often sent 
up. Then the craft in the air signals to the boat where any 
mines it can see are. The mines are then exploded by rifle fire 
from the ship on the water, or they are dragged, poked, or 
exploded in any other way. Sometimes the aircraft goes out 
alone and explodes the mines itself. 

If a liner or big ship gets torpedoed or strikes a mine all the 
water-tight doors leading from one room into another are closed. 
The ship may then be regarded as a structure composed of water- 
tight boxes. Several of these boxes are flooded owing to the 
hole blown in the side. More may have small leaks burst in 
them by the explosion. If the ship floats the pumps are set 
going and measures are taken to stop up the hole, and to get to 
the nearest port as quickly as possible, (Of course the nearest 
port with a dock.) The most powerful mine could not sink a 


large British super-dreadnought in under eleven hours, so she 
would have a fair chance of getting somewhere before she sank. 

When a ship is attacked by a submarine she turns her stern 
to the submarine as the wash of the propellers will usually alter 
the course of a torpedo. The ship's stern also presents a smaller 
target to the enemy. The ship zigzags, and may raise a 
cloud of black smoke to hide its movements. If several fast 
boats are travelling together, there may be a chance for one to 
ram the submarine. Destroyers and ships of war mounting 
small gims will fire at the submarine. A submarine has more 
than one periscope and when these are in a line with you the 
submarine is ready to fire. When the torpedo is coming only a 
quick man is able to put the helm over to avoid it, as the torpedo 
runs about as fast as a first-rate or " crack " British express 
train. It looks like a white flash as it whizzes past. Needless 
to say a boat must be going at full speed all the time it is fighting 
a subma rine. Torpedo nets are hung out about thirty feet from 
the ship's side on those slanting rods you may see on battleships. 
Torpedo nets are not fitted to small boats. Some torpedoes can 
get through the nets without exploding, and the speed of a ship 
must be under five knots when she has her nets out (for fear of 
the nets and torpedo booms being washed away). Torpedo nets 
are seldom used in British ships though all the ships are provided 
with them. The Forth and other large bridges that are in reach 
of German submarines are defended with them, and other nets 
for catching submarines of which I will tell you later. I am 
afraid that I have trespassed on the grounds of my next speech, 
which will be, " How Submarines are Fought." But prevention 
is better than cure, and a sure way to defend yourself from 
torpedoes is to fight the submarine which sends them. 

Age 12. J- B. W. 

[Written Lecture] 



I wish this morning to show you that Germany is not beaten 
and rim out as most people suppose. 



When Germany instituted bread tickets it did not mean thai 
she was short of bread or ever expected to be. It was only a 
wise precautionary move to prevent waste. The great German 
agricultural firms negotiated with the manufacturers of artificial 
manure and the result will probably be a record harvest for 
Germany. Manure is to be made by the hundred tons, and some 
areas of land will be taken over by the Govemmeni;, There will 
be a huge demand for manure, because the German Government 
have decided to put the brake on the price of manure and offer it 
at a price within the reach of the poorest farmer. " Grants " of 
manure will probably be made in certain circumstances. 

Then the nationalization of foodstuffs was a wise measure, 
and certainly ought to be copied. Here however it would not 
work as we treat our men as men ; while in Germany the men 
are treated as parts of a machine so to speak. The whole of 
Germany is now a great nation-wrecking machine with the 
(Government as the engine which supplies the motive power. 

Then take the case of the armies of Germany. In the westerii 
theatre of war they enclose practically all Belgium with its 
manufacturing cities and the richest part of France. Frona the 
products of this alone a large portion of the German people 
could be fed. 

In the east the forces of the Kaiser and the Archduke Charles 
of Austria enclose a big piece of Russian Poland. They have 
hurled back the Russians and are advancing^ on the capital 
of Russian Poland. Warsaw is very important because it 
is the centre of one of the few railway systems the Russians 

It is true that the Indians have been splendidly loyal, but, 
so thinks the German, Time and knowledge of the English 
meanness will cure that. 

At sea the submarines are " starving out the English." 
When the EngUsh fleet is reduced to about one and a half times 
the size of the German fleet an engagement will take place the 
result of which of course will be the annihilation of the English 
fleet. You must remember of course that this is the German 

The Germans appear to be very confident of getting American 
help. A more serious problem to them is how to lure Roumania 


and the other Balkan States to their side. These States seem to 
favour the cause of the Allies too much. 

Then as to the much discussed question of cotton. This is 
the only commodity for the manufacture of shells which the 
Germans cannot produce. Realizing this years before, they set 
about storing up cotton in huge quantities. Now their fore- 
sight is rewarded by enormous warehouses stuffed as full as they 
can with cotton. 

Germany has immense reserves of copper and the confisca- 
tion of old copper pots and kettles was only to prevent waste. 
Kettles and pans can be made of tin plate, which is thin sheets of 
iron dipped in or coated with tin. By using first scrap copper 
they leave the Government supplies untouched and still make 
shells just as good as would be made with any copper. 

The damage to German overseas trade is, according to Ger- 
mans, temporary, and German ships will be able to run with even 
more safety than before the war. The Germans always avoided 
our warships as far as possible. The Germans always hated 
us, and believed that we stopped their merchant ships unneces- 

The average German believes implicitly in the press bureau, 
which does not tell so many lies as some people imagine. There 
are various post-card photographs used to hearten the Germans ; 
but these are of cinema actors usually. Of course the Germans 
do not believe that these are actors. They never suspect any- 

From these remarks I think you will see that the war is going 
to be a long and fierce one. Maybe we shall fight in it when we 
grow up. 

Age 12.1. J. B. W. 

How to make a Speech or Lecture was written at the very 
end of the course by our best lecturer. It is a pity that it did 
not occur to the boys to make a httle book of directions earlier, 
and then to add to it as their experience grew. It was this boy's 
own idea to write this lecture, and the rules and suggestions are 
all his own. I carefully refrained from giving the class any 
teaching in the method of speech-making just to see if practice 
bore out my theories. The fact that the conventional opening, 



" I have come up here to tell you about . . .," survived for a 
whole year, in itself shows that the master did not interfere, for a 
good beginning is the first thing a teacher would insist upon. I 
believe the plan of writing down stock beginnings was never 
tried. If it had been it would soon have been abandoned. 
The only point which the writer has borrowed is a recommenda- 
tion of mine about the best way of obtaining silence in a noisy 

[Written Lecture] 



I propose to show you my rules for making good speeches. 
Of course there are several ways and this is only one. But 
first as to beginnings. If I shut my eyes and Johnny got 
up and spoke a speech through a gin to alter people's voices, 
I should know him by his beginning : " Sir, I am up here 
this morning (or this afternoon) to make a speech on so-and- 

Now Johnny would be " floored " in more senses than one if 
he was called upon to make a speech from where he sat. So 
study good beginnings, don't use the same beginning for each 
lecture. It is a good thing to think out about two or three 
really good beginnings and write them down on a piece of paper. 
Then write down developments of these beginnings below until 
you have about six beginnings. Then take another piece of 
paper and think out two or three beginnings on a totally different 
line. Then write developments of these and so on. You will 
find now that you will have enough beginnings for a week or so, 
Don't be always telling the class that " You are up here this 
morning to make a speech " on this, that, or the other. They 
can see you are on the platform, they know it's this morning, 
and your speech has been, or ought to have been, announced 

The next thing to remember is not to be lengthy. I am 
afraid I am often far too long. The Chinese have a proverb, 
" Blessed is he that maketh short speeches for he shall be asked 
to come again." A good way to make speeches short is to make 


it a rule not to have more than a very few " by-the-bys " in youi 

If you are always by-the-bying and by-the-waying the 
audience are apt to miss the point. 

Mention of " by-the-by " brings us to the most important 
point of clearness. It is best not to talk with your hands, for if 
you say " about as big as this " and stretch out your hands, the 
class will not remember half as well as if you said " about two 
feet six inches long," or something like that. 

Speak slowly. There is no hurry. Pronounce every word 
clearly and distinctly. Speak according to sense-groups, that is 
do not gulp out your phrases in inarticulate gasps but pause at 
the right places. Remember it is better to speak too loudly than 
not to speak loud enough. It is very irritating for the people at 
the back to see the misters enjojdng a speech in all other ways 
good, and not be able to hear a word. Do not flourish about, 
and if the other side are shouting at you, wait till they have 

This last remark of course applies to committee-matter 
speeches only, but if there is any disturbance the best way to 
put a stop to it is to be perfectly quiet and motionless yourself 
until there is silence again. 

For the most part keep your eyes fixed on a point in the 
middle of the back wall about a foot above the head of the 
middle boy. Occasionally glance round the class and see how 
your remarks are catching on. If the audience are getting bored, 

If you are simply lecturing, your object ought to be to please 
your audience ; if you are speaking on conunittee mattes ram 
your point home through anything. Though if you are clever 
enough to " hold " the class, a quiet bringing home of the point 
is often more effective than any amoimt of roaring. Mind by 
ramming a point home, I do not mean creating a species of 
thunderstorm on the platform, but speaking with great force 
and weight. 

Always stand still when you speak. Never run about and 
stamp. That does not force home your point at all. It is best 
to stand with your hands behind your back and not fidget at all. 
If you have apparatus arrange it all neatly on the desk or table in 



front of you. I think a feeble speaker shoiJd not have apparatus- 
as it is apt to divert the attention of the audience. 

When you feel you have no more to say conclude at once. 
Never repeat anything, and never spin out your speech. Spun- 
out speeches annoy the audience, and selfishly steal time from 
the next speaker. 

Then about conclusions. Never, never say " I think this is 
all I have to say." Make a different ending to every speech. 
Sometimes briefly sum up your points and place them in a clear 
and concise form before the class. Sometimes you may mention 
your next fit or speech, but do not do this too much. Then 
again you may hope the class have enjoyed the speech. Never 
allude to your marks in your ending. It soimds bad. If you 
have notes, hold them in your left hand and occasionally glance 
at them. If you are answering another person make mental 
notes of the weak points in his speech. When you get up 
compliment him first and then attack him on his weak points. 
Sum up for an ending. If anybody is drawing on the board 
and goes wrong, quietly correct him and do not make a great 
fuss about it. 

Now we will talk about notes. I for myself think no one 
should have notes Certainly no one should read his speech 
unless he is called upon to read a written lecture. Never take 
books up with you. If you speak on a .subject, you ought 
to be proficient enough in it to be able to speak without a 
book. Never read extracts from books, or quote at any length 
poetry or prose. Never read newspaper cuttings. The less 
you read to your audience the better. 

And now in conclusion I think that if you wiU keep these 
rules you will make very good speeches with ten-tens and 
VGs showering round you. 

Age 12.1. I. B. W. 




My travels' history : 
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle. 
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven. 
It was my hint to speak, — such was the process ; 
And of the Cannibals that each other eat, 
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders 

" Othello " 

See, at his feet, some little plan or chart. 


Grown-up people who cannot draw usually do one of two 
things. Either they pretend they can, and make horrid pic- 
tures on their holidays, or they make no attempt at all. But 
every one should draw sometimes, whether he is any good at it or 
not. There is a world of entertainment in rapid sketches made 
on the back of an envelope or in thumb-nail caricatures drawn on 
the table-cloth during dessert. 

Most people in their hearts love to make pictures, but they 
resist the temptation for fear of " doing it wrong." The " art " 
master with his models and his casts and his rules of perspective 
has frightened away the practice of sketching for fun. The art 
master is hke all other school-teachers, he does not base his 
teaching on anything which it interests you to do, but sets all 
that aside and compels you to go through his course of formal 

But if Littleman does not find his natural desire for play 
recognized officially he will satisfy it unofficially, and there are 
few boys who have not at one time or another risen to the temp- 
tation offered by the margins and fly-leaves of their school books. 



Those who are denied the privilege of this literary expression 
draw on whitewashed walls. 

Most people who have to attend lectures with notebooks in 
front of them will draw while they hsten. Many a school- 
master at a round-table conference will amuse himself by fidget- 
ing with a pencil and making strange patterns and geometrical 
designs on the paper before him. He would not imderstand 
what you meant if you accused him of not attending to the 
speakers ; and yet many a small boy in his classes gets a smart 
rap on the knuckles for doing precisely the same thing. 

An Ilond is one of those dreamlands which all children 
imagine, and love to teU stories of. We use the older form of 
the word, and call our thing an Ilond, to distinguish it from 
a piece of land surrounded by water. For an Ilond has no 
geographical situation. It is rather a region of faery, a country 
in the clouds. 

It needs very little encouragement to persuade a playboy 
to make a picture-map of an imaginary country. There is a 
delight in making a creek just where you want to land, afford- 
ing good shelter for your boat. Far inland you see a chain of 
mountains, and there must needs be a river up which you may 
paddle on your explorations. A volcano, a trackless forest, and 
a lagoon will be good things to find, so you put them in. A 
grotto seems a secure place to live in, so you put that in too. 
There you may be safe from surprise by the native inhabitants, 
whose huts and fires soon make their appearance. There is a 
fascination, too, in naming features of the Ilond, such as bays 
and capes and passes. 

With such a game as this in hand a boy will work industriously 
for hours. " To what end ? " I may be asked. I don't know. 
It may end in anything. Certainly, you cannot claim to have 
definitely taught a boy something. But you may have set him 
going strongly on the path of that self-expression of which we 
hear so much. It is possible, too, that by going the same road 
in pursuit of the same goal he may shortly find himself in com- 
pany with certain other adventurers not unknown to students of 
literature or science or geography. 

Of coiu"se we don't know what will happen if we give Little- 
man pencil and paper and a free half-hour to draw an imaginary 


island. He may draw another plan of the school playground ; 
or he may attempt another version of Great Britain ! On the 
other hand, he may give free expression to his playful fancy. 
It all depends upon what Littleman has learnt to think of his 

A word or two will be enough to show the Littlemen what you 
propose they shall do. As Othello says : 

It was my hint to speak, such was the process. 

Every boy is full of Eonds. You may ask the boys if they 
have ever imagined themselves cast away upon a desert island. 
Have they, indeed ! Or you may recount the opening of a dream 
which broke off disappointingly just as your boat overturned on 
the reef and . . . 

An introduction to the making of Ilonds would in itself make 
a fascinating essay in imaginative literature. But in this matter 
the playboys require but the merest suggestive beginning ; and 
the wise teacher will not go beyond a certain point. That point 
is reached when every Littleman is wide awake, almost pain- 
fully interested, and anxious to help the story along by every 
means in his power. One jumps about in his seat and cries, " O, 
yes, sir," in excited corroboration of a proposed shark waiting by 
the coral reef. Another adds, " And the sea is deep blue and 
there are palms and a sandy shore " ; and another says, " You've 
drifted for days in an open boat and yoiir lips are swollen and 
black with thirst." 

This only is the witchcraft I have used. 

To proceed is more than imnecessary, it is almost a denial of 
right. The boy who cannot make an Ilond after such a begin- 
ning really deserves to be spoon-fed on Mimgo Park and Marco 

Ilonds themselves are not the invention of the playboys or 
their master. We have simply borrowed a word and given it a 
special application. We do not so much invent as remember 
things, and devise ways of playing them. The interest in what 
we call Ilonds is world-wide, and the love of them lies deep in the 
hearts of men. Consequently some of the greatest players have 
turned their hands to the making of Ilonds. 



When Robinson Crusoe was wrecked, he came ashore upon an 
Ilond. However many unread chapters may lead up to it, that 
event is the beginning of his book. Robert Louis Stevenson's 
chief work, according to his own estimate as well as in the judg- 
ment of his readers, is " Treasure Island." And to-day we have 
Peter Pan's Neverland, which is already a classic among Honds, 
and can never grow old and civilized so long as Littlemen 
delight in Redskins and Pirates and Mermaids, and in building 
houses underground or up in the trees. From the " New 
Atlantis " of Bacon to the short stories of H. G. Wells, Ilonds have 
been so numerous that they might almost form a branch of litera- 
ture in themselves. 

In addition to the element of adventure in Ilonds, which is 
concerned with perils which might actually beset the traveller 
by land and by water, there is the magical element. The 
most famous authority on this is Sir John Mandeville, who 
tells of such wonders as a sea " called the Gravelly Sea, which 
is all gravel and sand, without a drop of water." This may 
well be just an interesting way of describing a desert, for even 
of a desert it is true that it " ebbs and flows in great wave^ 
as other seas do, and is never still." But Sir John adds that 
" men find therein, and on the banks, very good fish, of different 
nature and shape from what is found in any other sea ; and they 
are of very good taste and delicious to eat." Again he tells us 
of small trees which " every day at sunrise begin to grow, and 
they grow till midday bearing fruit ; but no man dare take of 
that fruit, for it is a thing of faerie. And after midday they 
decrease and enter again into the earth so that at sunset they 
appear no more ; and so they do every day." 

Again, Sir John Mandeville tells how " In many places of 
the sea are great rocks of stone of adamant, which of its nature 
draws iron unto it ; and therefore there pass no ships that have 
either bonds or nails of iron in them ; and if they do, anon the 
rocks of adamant draw them to them, that they may never go 
thence. I myself have seen afar in that sea, as though it had 
been a great isle full of trees and bushes, full of thorns and briers, 
in great plenty ; and the shipmen told us that was of ships that 
were drawn thither by the adamants, for the iron that was in 


There, indeed, is a strange thing for a man to have seen. 
But he knows also of a river that " runs only three days in the 
week,"* and of " many wild men hideous to look on, and horned ; 
they speak nought, but grunt like pigs," and of many other 
wonders. It is diflBcult to cease quoting MandevUle to your 
playboys. Certainly they have a right to know that " Nigh 
to the river of Pison is a marvellous thing. There is a vale 
between the mountains which extends nearly foiu- miles ; and 
some call it the Enchanted Vale, some call it the Vale of 
Devils, and some the Perilous Vale. In that vale men hear 
oftentimes great tempests and thunders, and great murmurs 
and noises, day and night ; and great noise as it were of tabors, 
and nakeres, and trumpets, as though it were of a great feast. 
This vale is all full of devils and has been always ; and men 
say there that it is one of the entrances of heU. In that vale 
is plenty of gold and silver ; wherefore many misbelieving 
men, and many Christians also, oftentimes go in, to have of 
the treasure ; but few return, especially of the misbelieving 
men, for they are anon strangled by the devils." 

Let us not be numbered among the misbelieving men. Sii 
John tells us that it is the devils who are " So subtle to make a 
thing to seem otherwise than it is," and he makes it quite plain 
that those who " went in for the treasure " but had " overmuch 
feebleness in faith " never came out again to tell the wondrous 
tale. Therefore let us ventxire into the Enchanted Vale to bring 
away the treasure, being full of faith and not troubled in con- 
science as are misbelieving men. 

But perhaps, of all models, our best Bonds most closely 
resemble those old maps made by voyagers in the days when 
discovery might still bring to light a new continent or an 
imcharted sea. Much of Asia was unknown then, and there 
must have been many maps drawn " with the augmentation of 
the Indies." These old charts are full of pictures with comments 

• The Littlemen combine fact and fancy to a remarkable degree (just 
as when they were little children they would have related imaginary 
adventures of their own and almost thought they were real). When 1 
read of these rivers to the boys one of the most imaginative of them 
observed, "Merely an exaggerated [i.e. romantic] description of inter- 
mittent springs, I suppose." There can be no sharp dividing-line for a 
Littleman between science and poetry. 

K 145 


to them such as, " Here lives the Great Khan," " These are the 
realms of Prester John." In the sea figure many ships, and 
other voyagers of the deep such as " Mermaids," and " Whales " 
and " Delphines." And " Here be fissches that fly." Some of 
the pictures are so quaint, and the comments so naive, that it 
is difficult to imagine a state of knowledge in which such things 
were taken seriously. Perhaps, however, they were not taken 
so seriously as we think, for, before the coming of the exact 
sciences with their fancy-killing quest of bare fact and their arid 
terminology, mariners and explorers seem to have been just like 
boys out upon an adventure. Even the merchant bowed unto 
the seaman's star. 

In Elizabethan times there was more romance and poetry in 
the daily life of an unlettered prentice than most schoolboys get 
out of Shakespeare himself in these days of dead learning. 

Without questioning the wisdom of the scientists, one must 
regret the loss of those old pictures. Scientists themselves must 
admit that cartography — or whatever it pleases them to call 
map-making — ^has taken most of the romance out of maps. 
Then let all the wonder and romance of voyaging find refuge in 
Ilonds. Here at least the Great Khan shall rule on, and Prester 
John keep his wonted state from the East to Western Ind. Devils 
shall dance roimd fires to the terror of misbelieving men, and 
syrens shall sing upon the rocky places and make a tale of wrecks. 

The Play interest is stDl seen in the names given by Antarctic 
explorers to the capes and sounds and islands they find : Hut 
Point, Mount Discovery, Razorback, Inaccessible Island, Mount 
Terror, Butter Point, The Cloudmaker, the Bay of Whales. 
What a freshness there is about these when compared with the 
stay-at-home names of our streets and villas, "Acacia Road," 
"Victoria Avenue," " Sunnybank," " Brookside," and "Hill 

For the sake of cheapness we have sacrificed man's pride 
of home to live in the cardboard shanties of the jerry-builder. 
But a sense of humour might have saved us from allowing the 
ignorant scoundrel to name them. Better be plain No. 64 than 
" Verbena Croft." But perhaps the shrewd builder foresees 
what would happen if the names were left to the residents. One 
wag with a friendly circle of neighbours could spoil the whole 


"Estate." Fancy such appropriate names as "The Rabbit 
Hutch," " Topple Down," " Chimney Row," " The Hat Box," 
" Ditto Villa," " The Cubic Foot," and so on. 

Playboys often have a very apt fancy in naming places and 
things. Witness the nicknames they find for masters and the 
less popular articles of diet.* This knack is given a wide scope 
in the making of Bonds. The outline is drawn first without 
much care for anything, save to get in a few exciting capes and 
one or two comfortable bays, and to allow for a river-mouth. 
Many names are then suggested by the shape of the land, such 
as KJnee Cape, Toe Point, Horseshoe Bay. 

In " The Art of Writing " Stevenson tells us how he made the 
Ilond which was the genesis of his greatest book. He tells of a 
schoolboy who was staying with him in a cottage, " and with 
the aid of pen and ink and a shilling box of water-colours, he 
had soon turned one of the rooms into a picture gallery. My 
more immedate duty towards the gallery was to be show- 
man ; but I would sometimes unbend a little, join the artist 
(so to speak) at the easel, and pass the afternoon with him in 
a generous emulation, making coloured drawings. On one of 
these occasions, I made the map of an island ; it was elaborately 
and (I thought) beautifully coloured ; the shape of it took my 
fancy beyond expression ; it contained harbours that pleased me 
like sonnets ; and with the unconsciousness of the predestined, 
I ticketed my performance ' Treasure Island.' I am told there 
are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe. 
The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the 
roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man still distinctly 
traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and ruins, the ponds 
and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle 
on the heath ; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any 
man with eyes to see or twopence-worth of imagination to see 

But the pedant's eye is not on the look-out for a " fund of 
interest," nor does he care twopence for imagination. 

The first Ilonds we made were simply pencil-sketches 

* Instances, of course, abound, but I have just heard two most 
appropriate and typical schoolboy names for roly-poly jam-pudding 
— " Dead Baby " and " Sore Leg." 



made in a few odd minutes at the end of a lesson. The 
experiment proved so interesting that the boys asked for 
nonds to be set as homework. This not only gave the oppor- 
timity of getting them painted in colour, but it meant 
almost unlimited time. An Ilond requires unlimited time, 
because each thing you put in suggests something else. After the 
coast-line is made, the first thing that suggests itself is a river. 
If you have left no estuary in your coast-line for the river-mouth 
you generally begin again. The next essential is mountains for 
the river to start from. Mountains are rarely indicated now by 
the old herring-bone design so familiar twenty years ago in the 
maps of schoolboys. Some boys use the atlas convention of 
varied shadings according to different heights. But others quite 
frankly draw their mountains as little cones. Ilonds differ from 
maps in many respects, but chiefly in this, that they give you the 
elevation of mountains, castles, woods, and so on, instead of the 
mere plan. The prospect map, such as the illustrated news- 
papers often use for battle areas, is perhaps the most attractive 
method of all. But the exigencies of perspective make this far 
too difficult for small boys. Consistency is not looked for in 
Ilonds, and, while lakes are always given from the bird's-eye 
view, trees are regarded from the ordinary human standpoint. 

It is impossible to guess what a boy will put on his Bond. 
Some features will be obvious, such as " Salmon River," or "Here 
is the Sea-serpent." Other points and places will be beautifully 
named by sheer luck of fancy. I find, for instance, " The Bay of 
Nothing," " Straits of Guidance," " Legend Lake," and " The 
Village of Moimtain Guides." No traveller could find names 
more fair. Again, we have " Mount Goodwill," " The Bay of 
Moths," and "Memory Town." To me these names suggest 
some earthly paradise, or the voyaging of dreams. It is phrases 
such as these that Morris sought for the titles of his books. But 
we come into touch with Poe and Stevenson with " Mad Desert," 
" Fool Forest," and " Victim Glade." These names are surely 
an eloquent record of things which happen. How anxious the 
mariners must have been at " Point Ructions," how troubled 
was the captain in " Grumbles Sea." If you want the story of 
these places you have only to ask the boy who made the Bond. 
He will soon make a story to fit. 


In making of Ilonds there will be borrowings, imitations, the 
use of conventions, and also sheer originality. Here and there you 
get glimpses of what has passed through the boy's mind. Stray 
hints and chance associations will show you much of the direc- 
tions in which his interests lie. For Ilonds, as I have said, give 
great opportunities for self-expression in one way or another. 

The conventions borrowed from the old maps are sometimes 
very amusing. Often these amount to no more than " This is 
where the King lives," "Eels caught here." But there are 
certain conventions which have arisen among ourselves. Nearly 
every boy, of course, will put on his Ilond " Here I live," or 
" This is my boat." And not a few draw busy little figures 
hunting, or killing a dragon, or cruising about, and label them 
" This is myself," or simply " Me." Most of our Ilonds have 
the devil's own fire somewhere. This originated in a certain 
success of mine with coloured chalks on the blackboard in the 
only Ilond I ever made. The back view of an elephant has been 
common also, ever since one of the boys showed how simply it 
oould be sketched. Another item which had a certain vogue was 
a large yellow patch with a camel on it and the legend, " Here a 
big desert which only camels can cross." On every Bond you 
may expect elves and demons, and probably a giant or a witch. 
Gibbets appear frequently, and there is usually a tree bearing 
strange fruit. There is nearly always some horrid animal such 
as a man-eating spider, a great homed beast or a gigantic insect 
to shock the master, who is disgusted with all such things. In 
the surrounding sea, watched by the rising or setting sun, you 
will find ships of all kinds, and often a derelict. There are 
whales and mermaids of course, and nearly always a little shoal 
of LuUa fish. The Lulla fish is an invention of our own. He 
originated in this way : While reciting poems in chorus we 
wave sticks to keep us together and to express the rhythm 
of the verse. In our recital of the line in Shakespeare's " You 
Spotted Snakes." 

Lulla, lulla, lullaby, 

the movement of the stick follows the outline of a dolphin's 
back ;* and thus the dolphin came to be known as the Lulla fish. 

• See Perse Playbooks, No. 5. 



A feature may arise any day into sufficient favour to make 
it a convention, but for the most part they are things of fashion. 

But the demons are a permanent race, and Hell in one form 
or another is constantly recurring. Sometimes it is, " Here is 
the mouth to the Pit of Hell," and sometimes just the big fire 
already mentioned. In one case there was a drawing of a brick 
oven with two parboiled victims in it. Near at hand stood a 
group of implements labelled " Torture Gins." There was quitCj, 
a mediaeval suggestion about it all, and the legend above said. 
" Here be Hell." On the same Ilond is depicted an " Exhaust- 
pipe through which repenting people are blown to Heaven." 
A little soul in bright yellow is making the belated ascent, while 
a demon with a trident regards his loss with evident dismay. 
In this, which is called " Mixed GrUl Hond," there is another 
demon figure, " My host of the Hond, a retired devil, but still 
dressed red." In the " Isle of King Wimipus " there are " Devils 
fighting " and " Baby devils doing tricks " ; and in " The 
Ilond of Dreams " there is a " Wicked Fairies' Maze where they 
cast their Christian prisoners." 

In other boys' Ilonds are to be found such incidents and 
features as " The good witch of the Hond with her blood and milk 
pails," "Runaway Cat," "A Fesaunte," "Walrus," "A Beetle 
Dragon," " Miser's House," " Milestone," " Fairies who do play 
in the Sun," " Giraffe who walks nine miles a day," " Freaks," 
" The Baxx, very fierce," " Idol which the natives worship," 
" Nunul, who holds a lantern for the Idol to see during night," 
" Mrs. Noah waiting for the animals," and " The Mayor's Hut." 

Explanatory and helpful comments abound — " A thief was 
hung here," " Barley never ripens here," " Here be a large 
brass trumpet," and " Witches tell other people's fate by their 
fire." This last has a parenthetical acknowledgment " (from 

Nearly every Bond will have some feature in it which is 
entirely original. In " The Ilond of Mieke " (pronounced Meeky) 
there is a man pulling the top of a tree to the ground, and he is 
called " The Pine Bender." In another, looming larger than the 
mountains, is a " Monkey sucking water through a tube." 
" Wonder Ilond," can boast " a town on wheels " and an invisible 
castle. And as " very big animals lurk here " it is not sur- 


prising that " The King lives by himself under the sea in a ginger- 
bread house." But he doesn't look very contented. There 
have been a few allusions to the war, such as " Zeppelins drop 
bombs here," but they are generally given some tinge of literary 
reminiscence such as " Bombish exilations {sic) whizzing in the 
air." There has been but one Kaiser Dond and that was a kind 
of Rake's Progress. In one place he grew his " moustarche," 
then proceeded along the " Road to Ruin via Belgium," and 
ended in the " Slough of Despond." We shall perhaps not 
discover until this war is over how very little romance of any 
poetic kind there has been in it. 

In the making of Ilonds a Littleman's imagination is so active 
and his attention taken up with so many things that spelling is 
apt to suffer neglect. Letters frequently drop out, and you find 
Kangrdo, Grillars, Stgnant Pool, and Wods. 

The earliest Ilonds, as I have said, were just rough pencil 
sketches. The next step was the use of a large sheet of drawing 
paper and very bright colours. It is better to cover the Ilond 
with some pale coloiir before putting in the geographical features 
and the people and the wonders. This makes a clear distinction 
between the Ilond and the sea. But best of all is the use of a 
sheet of stiff coloured paper as the sea. The coast-line is then 
drawn on white paper, and the Ilond cut out and stuck on to the 
large coloured sheet. When it is dry the painting proceeds as 
usual. The ships, LuUa fish and other sea-dwellers are drawn 
upon the coloured background, or cut in outline and affixed. 

There may be some difiiculty in obtaining the stiff coloured 
paper. Brown paper will do if it is not too dark, but the appear- 
ance of a finished Ilond on brown paper is not very lively. I 
cast about for some time to find stiff coloured papers. Stationers 
could supply nothing useful, so I had recourse to the grocer. 
From him I obtained a maroon and a dark blue paper which he 
used for wrapping up tea and sugar. But this did not satisfy 
us for long. At length a happy idea struck me, and for a shilling 
I purchased remnants of self-coloured wall-papers in great 
variety. Thus we obtained scarlet and bright yellow, many 
greens and mild blues, and even a deep purple. It is worth 
remembering the remnants of wall-paper, for they can befput to 
many uses. But for Ilonds we found wall-paper of scant avail. 



The preparation on the paper caused the ink to be absorbed, 
and anything one wrote or drew in the sea became blurred 
at once. 

Eventually I hit upon " cover " papers such as are used by 
printers and bookbinders. I avoided all the muddy nondescripts 
or " art shades," in the sample-books, and chose a range of bright 
colours. This included true green, blue, red, orange, and purple, 
a maroon and a light brown. I ordered " 21 quires assorted 
colours," and a few days later a great stack of paper arrived 
at the school on a hand-cart. The size of the sheets was about 
twenty-five inches by twenty inches. Half a sheet is just a good 
size upon which to stick an Bond. Later I obtained some thinner 
paper coloured only on one side, and this the boys used to stick 
round the outer edge of the great sea, cut out as sun and moon, 
planets, many-pointed stars, and signs of the zodiac. 

Some boys adorned the outer edge of the sheet with small 
bright labels in which the scenes and important features of the 
Ilond were reproduced in miniatiu-e. This touch was very telling. 

It is essential that an Hond should be clear to see and to read. 
Everything should therefore be drawn or written upright so 
that it can be understood without any need of turning the 
Ilond sideways or upside down. For the drawing it is best to 
use a decorative style with a distinct outline. Some of the 
boys outline their painting figures in black, which makes them 
very clear. It is, of course, better to use indian ink than the 
anaemic blue-black liquid common nowadays for writing. The 
legends should be neatly printed in a compact space, not 
scrawled wildly over the landscape. An imitation of itaUc 
print makes a neat script. A good Hond is very neat, very 
clear, and generally highly coloured. It is, in fact, a bright 
and satisfactory piece of work altogether. The final touch is 
to put a red or orange label in one of the bottom comers, and 
to print on it the name of the Bond and your own, thus, " The 
Ilond of King Wumpus, by Jack Jingle," or " Dreamland, an 
Ilond by Richard Wilding." 

Most of our Honds have been wholly imaginary, but some- 
times the boys take their subjects from a book read in class. 
The Hond is then a kind of epitome in illustration. " A Mid- 
summer Night's Dream " makes a beautiful Ilond. 


It is to be presumed that most teachers of junior classes 
allow their boys to draw and paint pictures of the stories and 
ballads they read, in addition to recounting them in class or as 
written homework. Ilonds are very useful in this connexion, for 
they enable a boy to illustrate all the incidents of a story upon 
the same stage, instead of having to choose out some isolated 
episode for a single picture. 

BeowuK Hond, for instance, consists of two isles. On one is 
the home of Hygelac, whence Beowulf with his fourteen picked 
men starts out across the sea on his expedition for the relief of 
Hrothgar from the fell demon Grendel. The ship with its curved 
prow is upon the waters, going over the gannets' bath. Many 
whale-fishes and sea-nickers follow the men upon their voyage. 
Soon they draw near the land of Hrothgar, and meet the coast- 
watcher riding down from the cliff. He speaks bold words to 
Beowulf on his landing, asks who he is and what his errand. 
A. little stone path runs inland to Heorot, the hall of Hrothgar, 
The roof is horn-gabled and shining with plates of gold. Hroth- 
gar sits upon the gift-stool. The men of Beowulf beach their 
ship, and bring out shields and bymies and war-gear. Yonder 
in the marshes is the lair of Grendel, the lone-goer, he who 
walks by twilight and snatches up men as they sleep. In a 
cavern beneath the mere lurks Grendel's dam, grisly, awaiting 
her death-blow at the hands of Beowulf. 

For the telling of a story in pictures it is allowable, or rather, 
necessary for the persons to appear several times over. Con- 
sequently Beowulf will be represented once in his ship, again in 
the fight with Grendel, and a third time in the struggle with 
Grendel's dam under the mere. But some stories are too long or 
too full of incident to be shown fully upon one Hond. These are 
best illustrated in a series of pictures. The tale of Big Claus and 
Little Claus, for example (one of the best stories ever collected), 
can be admirably told in about a score of pictures ; and among 
ballads, " King Estmere," " The Gay Goshawk," and " Young 
Bekie " are best illustrated in this way. The pictures should 
be made contiguous by pasting them on a long scroll of calico. 
Or they may be painted on the stuff itself; but then one 
blunder is fatal. The legend, most tersely worded, runs along 
under the pictures. The best model for this picture-narrative 



is, of course, the Bayeux Tapestry, a great favourite with all 

Just as Ilonds can be made in illustration of an existing 
story, so can a story be devised to tell the tale of an existing 
Bond. I mean that you may draw an Bond first, and then 
make up a story to fit your pictures. This may seem a 
strange procedure, but such things are by no means imusual 
with us.* I will not say that this plan gives a stimulus to the 
imagination, because a playboy's imagination, if unrepressed, is 
already active enough. But this plan does afford a great oppor- 
tunity for the imagination to express itself. The exercise of 
ingenuity is also required, for he who draws his pictures first, and 
then sets about to make a story of them, must give some plausible 
account of what he has drawn. Of the numerous ways of " teach- 
ing composition " the making of Bond stories is the most con- 
ducive to originality and ingenuity, and therefore one of the 
most enthralling. 

Speaking of his Bond story Stevenson says, " I have said the 
map was the most of the plot. I might almost say it was the 
whole. A few reminiscences of Poe, Defoe, and Washington 
Irving, a copy of Johnson's ' Buccaneers,' the name of the Dead 
Man's Chest from Kingsley's ' At Last,' some recollections of 
canoeing on the high seas, and the map itself with its infinite, 
eloquent suggestion, made up the whole of my materials. It is, 
perhaps, not often that a map figures so largely in a tale, yet it is 
always important. . . . But it is my contention — ^my super- 
stition, if you like — that who is faithful to his map, and consults 
it, and draws from it his inspiration, daily and hourly, gains 
positive support, and not mere negative immunity from acci- 
dent. The tale has a root there ; it grows in that soil ; it 
has a spine of its own behind the words. . . . Even when a 
map is not all the plot, as it was in ' Treasure Island,' it will be 
found to be a mine of suggestion." 

* Once while designing covers for chap-books I happened to make up 
a green cover with a band of mixed colour running across it. The design 
pleased me, and it next occurred to me that a suitable title for a poem to go 
in this cover would be " Greenwood and Arras." My friends were amused 
to see the cover made and the title written upon it, while yet there was no 
poem. But later on I made the poem to fit, and liked it even better than 
the chap-book cover. 


This passage from Stevenson should be sufficient proof, if 
proof be needed, that in recommending the use of Ilonds in the 
teaching of English, we are talking, not only sense, but a sense 
above the common. 

When the story of an Ilond is written it is bound up into the 
form of a chap-book. If it is your intention afterwards to 
write the story you should be careful not to draw the Ilond on 
too large a sheet ; for it must go in as the frontispiece to your 

The book itself should not be too large ; yet it cannot 
be very small, because writing takes up so much more space 
on a page than print. The paper should be white and not 
ruled.* The book is covered with one of the stiff 
coloured sheets, and tied with a bright but very narrow ribbon. 
A boy beginning on his second chap-book should be counselled 
to make it uniform with the first, but in a cover 
of a different tint. Thus he will make the beginnings of a 
series. Some design should appear upon the outer cover. If 
the cover paper is too dark, the design and title may be set 
upon a label. 

The use of the chap-book is, of course, not restricted to 
Bonds and their stories. Any tale can be bound up in a chap- 
book with its own illustrations. A long ballad, a short play or a 
collection of little poems will each make a chap-book. For short 
poems, generally light verses, we use the broadside. This is 
nothing but a single sheet of coloured paper of a fairly large size 
with the verses neatly inscribed upon it, and a gay picture on 
the top. Sometimes there is another picture at the bottom. 
Although little is said here of broadsides they will be found 
a very useful means of keeping the boys actively interested 
in the making of verses and pictures. The broadside, being 
but a single sheet, may be considered as a first step towards 

Here is the first chapter of an Ilond ballad-narrative by a 
second-form boy aged twelve. He would be a sour and un- 
responsive reader who would not be tempted by the last verse to 
turn over and read the second chapter. 

* The boy will of course make his own pencil ruling which he can rub 
out after writing. 



I requested a copy of this ballad for my album and received 
it with the title : 


A village there was upon my Ilond 

In the middle of the ocean blue, 
And I, the king in this wondrous land, 

Dwelt with my courtiers true. 

With gables high and towers strong 

In the midst of a land so free, 
My palace stood with windows of gold 

Looking out o'er the fairy sea.* 

The Ilonders had all their wants. 
No fighting for this and that ; 
But all exchanged with a very good will 
And called it tit for tat. 

But a set of rogues spoiled all our sport 

And made a great to-do. 
But here is the end of Chapter I, 

The rogues are in Chapter II. 

D. H. 

The ballad quoted next is a description rather than a narra- 
tive. The Ilond of which it tells was not one of those finished 
works affixed to a coloured background and carefully painted, 
but merely a very rough sketch drawn in an odd moment. The 
sketch was only preserved because it chanced to be drawn on 
the wrapper in which the boy carried the bulky manuscript of a 
book he was writing. Considered as verse the following ballad 
is worthless. But its very crudity perhaps makes it more useful 
as an illustration. It represents, as it were, a " first step in 
Ilond balladry." 


There is a little Bond 

Upon the Spanish main. 
Its name is Laughing Bond 

Where boys never get the cane. 

* The reminiscence of Keats's " magic casements " may be very faint, 
but the reader has my assurance that this is a reminiscence. 


To the northward is Cape Caldwell, 

Below it Nig-nag Bay, 
On its shore there is a village 

Where the little people play 

Just by it is a nigger boy 

A-dancing on the sand. 
And then a Pirates' cavern 

On the salt sea strand. 

Then there is a polar bear 

That breathes out fire and smoke, 

And the lone pines are a-swaying, 
But the tallest tree is broke. 

And then there is a greenwood 

And it hight Ding-a-dong, 
And there you see a funny tree. 

On wheels it runs along. 

Then comes the King of the Bond 

Who dances on the shore, 
He has a crown which when he puts on 

You see his face no more. 

Then there is the Rippling Shore, 

At one end Kaiser point. 
At t'other Austrian headland 

That looks like a thumb-joint. 

That finishes the mainland 

Except for a Redskin tent. 
Which is pitched on the shore of Nig-nag Bay 

W"here the Redskin Injuns went. 

To the north is Wee-wun Bond, 

In the centre is a lull 
From which smoke is arising 

Which is thick and makes you ill. 

On the east you find the Lulla fish 

A-basking in the sim. 
On the West the Wee-wun people 

Who sport and have much fun. 



To the south of Laughing Ilond 

The Wa-wa fish doth sup. 
My eye, an' he is big enough 

To eat the nond up. 

There is the end of the balloon-man, 

He who failed to fly. 
Eaten by the LuUa fish — 

A fearful death to die. 
Age 12. F. G. G. 

The reader who is interested in Ilonds and what may come 
out of them will agree that this ballad, for all its weakness, was 
worth quoting. Many of the touches mentioned in the foregoing 
pages will be found illustrated in it. The writer is not one of the 
weaker brethren, he is one of our best playboys, but it happens 
that in this case he has spoken too much in the character of a 
guide and has not done himself justice as a poet. The following 
ballad, however, illustrates Ilond balladry at its best. One 
would think, perhaps, that the boy might have been content 
with such a work, but the truth is that even this ballad is but an 
off-shoot, while the Ilond itself has from first to last been the 
ihief interest. The boy's father was telling me one evening how 
the interest of the whole household was centred in the invention 
and development of this Hond ; and yet I found that the father 
did not even know of the existence of this ballad, which was 
already in the printer's hands. The Bond itself was brought to 
school at my request, and the mister hung it up for all to see. 
But when term ended the maker of the Hond took it away with 
him, explaining that he intended to make a chap-book on it. 
There is as much potentiality in the way of story-making in this 
Hond as there was in Stevenson's map. We may yet hear more 
of the adventures of the new Hogginarmo and his enemy the 
King and those Pirates. 


This Bond's king is a noble man 

And hath a fime stronghold. 
The domes upon his palace roof 

Are all of burnished gold. 


When he goes to his senate house 

His flag is unfurled then, 
And mth the help of his soldiers 

He punishes bad men. 

On a large, far-distant Bond 

Count Hogginarmo dwells, 
And north of him a burning mount 

And boiling water wells. 

Hogginarmo is bad and bold, 

A mighty man is he. 
When the king sent to say, " Obey 1 " 

He cried, " Obey, not me ! " 

" Now have I not a walled town 

And a castle on the hill ? 
I'll run him through with my good sword 

Right readily I will ! " 

Then bugles, trumpets, lutes and lyres 

Struck out a martial tune, 
And in the town were music-men 

Who played the loud bassoon. 

" Now rede me, rede me," said the king, 

" My rede shall rise at thee." 
" I'd have the good and strong sea-wood • 

And quickly put to sea." 

The king put out with five good ships, 
And staunch and strong were they. 

And he came to the Straits of Indigo 
Upon a Saturday. 

Count Hogginarmo's men came forth 

And stood upon the wall. 
With gunners, bowmen, musqueteers. 

At one loud bugle call. 

Then the king attacked the castle 

And smoke and dust flew high. 
And all along the shrieking sound 

Of roimd-shot tearing by. 

• " Rede me " is from " King Estmere " ; " Sea-wood " from a 
translation of Beowulf 



Then the king landed his soldiers 

And charged the castle Trail, 
But in face of Hogginarmo's guns 

Full many men did fall. 

At last the top of this great wall 

Was gained by only two. 
They slashed out right, they slashed out left. 

And many men they slew. 

Count Hogginarmo's cowards fled 

Before the doughty twain, 
And they pursued them aU alone 

And struck and struck again. 

And quite alone they cleared the wall, 

And when a man was found 
That turned his face and tried to fight 

One smote him to the ground. 

At last a fearful oath they hear 

And the great Count they see. 
Who rushed on one and with his sword 

Bashed his brain-pan in three. 

The other dealt the Count a blow 

As made him reel full sore. 
Alas ! the Count pierced him right through — 

He died upon the floor. 

Three of the king's good ships were sunk 

And one so badly hit. 
That when they tried to go a-speed 

The water entered it. 

Then Hogginarmo ruled the land 

For full a month— but anon 
The king thundered down with might and main 

Upon the bad Baron. 

Then said the king to the Pirates, 

" If you storm his stronghold, 
m give you jewels by the pound, 

And tons and tons of gold.'' 


The Pirates then they sailed around, 

And all along the shore 
They set up guns, and many guns. 

And guns and guns galore. 

Then the pirates fired red-hot shot 

And made a fearful charge 
Upon the town ; whose walls were strong 

And very tall and large. 

The pirates soon had won the town. 

They spared no single bit. 
But plundered right and plundered left, 

And then set fire to it. 

So Hogginarmo sulkily, 

Though he hated the thing. 
Was forced to pay a fine and do 

Low homage to the king. 
Age 12. J. B, W. 

After the Littlemen have played at Honds and chap- 
books for a while many of them will be anxious to make a 
book entirely by themselves ; to do the composition, painting, 
writing, binding and all, even as did William Blake with 
his books. They like to keep the matter secret imtil they can 
approach trimnphantly with a finished work. But the teacher 
should insist upon seeing a rough copy of the proposed story 
or ballad or poem before the making of the broadside or chap- 
book begins, because there will always be some little faults of 
spelling or sentence-structure or metre to be amended. And 
nothing is more distressing to a boy — and consequently to his 
master — ^than to find the result of his joyful labour marred by 
trivial errors that might so easily have been corrected. 

The question of the handwriting for broadsides and chap- 
books must have occurred to the reader. Any boy who takes a 
pride in his handiwork will soon be dissatisfied with writing a 
book in his ordinary hand. Modem handwriting has so many 
decorations, so many ugly curls and unnecessary links between 
letters that, however neat, it can never be beautiful. It is, for 
a number of reasons, most unsuitable for a book. And type- 
writing is, of course, altogether out of the question. You cannot 

L 161 


mix together handicraft and machine-work, for the simple 
reason that the one allows the individual touch and the other 
does not. 

There is only one way of writing in a hand-made chap-book, 
and that is in formal script. There are many styles of lettering, 
but for school use the best is the simplest. It is best for three 
reasons : (i) that a simple formal hand is mastered fairly soon 
for use in chap-books and other careful writing ; (ii) that, being 
simple, it is more likely to come into cursive use ; and (iii) that 
the simplicity of the letters is in direct antagonism to the curly, 
twisty abominations of the modem hand. And so the teacher 
should be careful to avoid any ornate style of old lettering, and 
introduce his pupils to the simple, severe, essential forms of the 

This warning is necessary, because most people foolishly 
imagine that present-day handwriting is lettering at its simplest ; 
and when one speaks of formal script they think at once of 
ornamental letters and the illuminated capitals of old missals. 
It is news to most people that quite half the strokes they make in 
their handwriting are unnecessary links. If you will look in a 
printed book you will find that the letters of a word are not 
strung together, but bunched. I shall say no more about script 
here, but refer the reader to an expert authority.* 

Mr. Graily Hewitt says : " No doubt but few people can 
find time to learn and practise a formal hand ; but all might 
adopt and adapt a method of writing that acknowledged tradi- 
tions achieved by centuries of painstaking, centuries qualified, 
if only by the absence of machinery, to assist in a matter where 
the hand is still essential. . . . To-day the connecting stroke 
between the letters of a word has been insisted upon till it has 
become a fetish. Of old it was only used when convenient, the 
letters were made one after another and connected automatically 
by bunching or clamping together. This bunching assists 
legibility, for we read the bunch of a word rather than the 
separate letters forming it. To separate these by a connecting 
stroke is to protract the reading. . . . The modern pen is chiefly 

* See the Oxford Copy Books by Graily Hewitt, published by Henry 
Frowde and Hodder & Stoughton, Nos. 1 and 2, price 3d. each. Broad 
pens can be had of Wm. Mitchell, 3 Warwick Lane, E.C. 


to blame. It is fine and pliable. The mediaeval pen was 
comparatively broad and stiff. Thickness of down-strokes 
requires pressure upon a fine pen ; a broad pen does without, 
and the writer's attention is not distracted by such an unneces- 
sary demand upon him. With a fine pen a child cannot make a 
page of writing imiform in its downstrokes. But if he use 
the old method he can do this at once, and attend to direction 
unembarrassed — a very great gain. . . . With a broad stiff 
pen a child could not go far wrong if he tried to imitate printed 
letters stich as our italics without any copybook at all. . . . The 
tool that was chiefly concerned in the evolution of the Roman 
Alphabet up to the sixteenth century might be trusted again." 

Perhaps some teacher may feel that his own inability (or 
unwillingness) to master a formal hand renders him unable to 
introduce penmanship to his boys. It depends, of course, as 
every proposal in this book depends, on your view of a teacher's 
function. It is no use trying to teach what you are incapable 
of teaching, but a master can do wonders by putting his boys 
on the track of something which they can teach themselves. 
As soon as I came into touch with formal script I told the boys 
of it. Two of them in the sixth form took it up, and, being born 
with a skill for the craft, were beyond my reach within a week. 
Before the end of the following term these boys had executed 
" outside orders " for addresses for presentation. Among the 
Littlemen there are a few who write extremely well, and many 
more who can make a very fair page. All these outstrip me, for 
I am only just a little better than those despondent ones who 
say, " I'm no good at this game, sir." Yet with the joyous 
labour of many perspiring hours even we clumsy-fisted ones 
have produced some interesting chap-books. Some teachers, 
again, are unable to draw. What matter ? In my time I have 
even ventured on pictures. They may have been horrid — ^in fact 
they were horrid ; but some of the pictures made by the Little- 
men thereafter afforded me an ample excuse. 

The two passages which follow are Bond stories written as 
prose studies. Both writers are boys of twelve in the second 
form. These quotations illustrate two very distinct styles. 
Neither of the boys had an atom of help in his work. 




Elng Nmnowa lived on the west side of the Ilond of Numowan. 
On the eastern shore, opposite Devilton and Devilton harbour, 
was the harbour of Wolumbrigia, and King Wamgig's castel 
where King Wamgig lived. 

One day as Kiag Nmnowa was out watching his fleet fishing 
he fell overboard and a shark swallowed him up. His fishing 
fleet then ran back to Numowton harbour and told the poor 
Numowtonians the sad news of the death of their good king for 
whom great regret was felt and many people wept. 

In the middle of their sadness news was received that the 
devils had invaded the land of Numowa and were pouring 
through the pass in the mountains which separated the two 
lands. So the Numowtonians went out and fought with the 
devils. The devils were soon beaten and were put to flight and 
chased as far as the pass by which they had entered the land ol 
Numowan. Meanwhile strange things had happened at Devilton 
harbour. One of King Wamgig's boats had put into Devilton 
harbour by mistake and had been captured, and the king of the 
devils told the devils to take King Wamgig and take his robe off 
and burn him, and he said he would come along later to see that 
his work was done properly. 

The devils did as they were told and took King Wamgig's 
robe off and hvant him. The king of the devils was true to his 
word and came down to see the fire and that the work had been 
done properly. When the king of the devils came to the fire 
he saw that everjrthing had been done as he had commanded, 
but he was very cross when he saw Eng Wamgig's legs sticking 
out of the fire so he ordered the men who put him in to be put 
in also. 

H. C. 


It is in the Isle of King Shack that fiery dragons do reside. 
And it so happened once that a brave knight did attempt their 
killing, but the wicked witch Wyrd, who doth reign o'er all the 
world, did give the dragons power to master him, and they 


imprisoned him in the Cave of Darkness, which is their resting- 
place. And so the knight's bones did gradually decay, till they 
gave way from under him, and he died. Then demons and 
devils came unto his corse, and did eat of it. But as he was a 
good man when he lived, they liked not his flesh. 

Then came a young man, who had done no sin, unto an aged 
man, and said : 

" Now I have heard how my father was slain by the dragons, 
and I would avenge his death. If thou wilt give me counsel, 
then will I be to thee a trusty squire." Then the aged man 
said, " If thou wouldst do as thou sayest, lad, then go now into 
my cabin and fetch me my staff." Then the young man went in 
and fetched the staff. " Now," said the old man, " When thou 
comest unto the dragons, lie down as if thou wert dead, then the 
dragons will go away, and as they depart, strike them with this 

"When the lad came unto the Cave of Darkness, he lay down 
on his back. Then came the dragons out, and when they looked 
on his face that was so pure, for he had done no sin, they were 
affrighted. Said one : " This is the man who has done no sin, 
and who it is prophesied shall work our destruction." Then they 
turned away, and the lad sprang up. He struck the first dragon 
upon the head, and looked hard upon him. The dragon shrank 
before his glance, and fell upon the ground. Then the second 
dragon sprang upon him, but he was light of foot, and sprang 
him nimbly aside. The second dragon fell upon the first, and 
killed him. 

The lad retiamed to the aged man, and was faithful unto his 

G. S. S. 

A complete chap-book is too long to quote by way of 
illustration, but some account may be given to show how 
in these longer works the story becomes of more importance 
than the original Hond, as happened in the case of 
Stevenson. " The Isle of Adrian " is the work of a boy of fifteen 
or more in the fifth form. He is one of those who " never grew 
up." Several senior boys, such as sixth-form prefects, and 
those who had already entered the university, took a keen 



interest in the play-productions of the Littlemen. But that was 
an adult interest, the interest which teachers will show in the 
course of time. But the author of " The Isle of Adrian " really 
wished himself back in the second form. " I wish I had a chance 
to do these things," he often said. He was a playboy to his 
finger-tips. " The Isle of Adrian," opens with a prologue : 
" A happy Littleman am I, and in these few pages I shall explain 
to Uncle Joe the joys of my Hond." 

There is a large coloured picture showing the slippered Uncle 
Joe sitting in his armchair smoking a long pipe and reading the 
paper. On the floor a small boy is kneeling. A box of toys lies 
open beside him, and he is setting out upon a square board, 
which represents his Bond, some trees and men and Noah's Ark 
animals. On the next page appears a real Littleman Lond, 
showing the Hond full of life as it was appearing in fancy to the 
nephew of Uncle Joe. The thirty pages or so which follow give 
an account of the inhabitants of the Hond, their habits, their 
hatmts, and their goings on. Almost every page has a picture, 
and some have three or four. The first chapter is a general 
survey, and the others give particulars of chosen characters. 

" King Carranzabar, the noble ruler of this land, lives with 
his family and court of all-valiant knights in his stately castel, 
which stands so proudly, sporting its red minarets here on the 
hill. We see him at present driving in his state coach, with 
footmen in cocked hats. . . ." 

" Two knights we see jousting in friendlike mien. The 
shaggy lion lays aside his kingly state and watches the fun with 
imdignified interest, while the glowing snake wriggles up to his 
side. Jumbo, the grey elephant, has strolled from the wood on 
to the cliff, and gazes over the blue scape of water at a ship dim 
on the horizon. High in air we see Bavieca the witch, astride 
her broom, floating down through the fresh morning air. . . while 
Fender, the green Dragon, is keeping up his morning practice of 
hurling forth red-hot abuse at some imaginary foe. On the side 
of the grassy slope the Flat-foot bird is flapping his wings to 
brace him for the day, while on the grass many little elves are 
prancing, prancing merrily. Over the palm-tipped crest of the 
hill. Lout, the Giant, is looming." 

"Look, Uncle ■! here in the offing you may find the king's 


two sons fishing from a neatly rigged little boat, and the Sea- 
serpent follows the Royal yacht, perhaps in playful chase, or 
perhaps on the off-chance of a sympathetic crumb. But I fancy 
a whole loaf would be more to his liking, and not even the Royal 
yacht with a pattern on its sail can afford whole loaves for 
ordinary coily sea-serpents. You must understand. Uncle, that 
these beings on the isle are well-intentioned. . . . As for Fender 
his appearance is must misleading, for one could scarcely be 
fond of a being who breathed forth fire and chewed cinders. 
But in his less energetic moments he is a sweet old thing. He 
would not intentionally hurt a soul. In fact the childer of the 
ilond love him so much that they may be seen every afternoon 
toddling off to him, each with a piece of house-flannel to polish 
up his scales. This kind attention the dragon well enjoys, and 
during the operation lays himself out flat and tells stories to his 
gay little troop of polishers." 

At this point there are two very pleasing pictures, one 
showing six " childer " running out with duster in hand, and the 
other showing them all grouped on and about old Fender 
busily polishing him. 

TOie second chapter consists of the autobiography of this 
genial monster as " told to the blithe young children who were 
rubbing his scales to brightness." The chapter is long and ends 
with these words, " Here the dragon ceased. The little children 
had stopped polishing and were sitting round him, enraptured of 
his telling." 

" Surely the most wonderful of the beings on the Isle of 
Adrian is Gorger, the red beast to the left of the wood. Gorger 
is not his real name. He is really a very fine relic of the Model- 
in-plasticine tribe ; but as his chief virtue is his marvellous 
eating capacity, the islanders gave him this name." 

There is unhappily no space to relate the legend of " Ten- 
Three, the Gayest Bird that ever bore a Tail," nor the spell of 
" The Fat Pink Pig with the Big Black Spots," nor even to quote 
the descriptions of the other residents in the Isle of Adrian. A 
passage from Chapter IV must conclude these extracts : 

"You must know. Uncle, that the brave walls and lofty 
towers of the castel enclose many fair ladies and many doughty 
knights. There are beautiful terraces hidden behind those solid 



battlements, where flowers grow, and knights court ladies 
in the sunlight. Each day at noon the warriors parade in 
line on their frisking steeds and charge down the winding 
road on to the Lower Island, there to rehearse the arts of 
war. Meanwhile His Majesty the King, dressed in shining 
armour with breeze-blown plumes a-fluttering, strides proudly 
round, attended by his equerries, clapping the gests of his 
knights. . . . 

" When the knights have shot their arrows and given practice 
to their sword-play for a space, a herald, at the word of the king, 
raises his brasen horn to his lips and blows a mighty blast with 
great pouting of cheeks. The knights on hearing this signal 
form themselves full briskly into two equal companies. They 
then disarm and provide themselves with wooden swords, each 
man having a tuft of paper plumes stuck in his helmet — ^those 
of one side a red tuft, those of the other a white. Then a second 
blast is blowen and the knights, ranged in two opposing ranks, 
give eye to the Bang who is now holding aloft a purple kerchief. 
This he duly drops and the knights, digging their spurs into the 
flanks of their white chargers, dash to meet in mock battle. 
Then the ranks crash together as two roaring waves that meet. 
The chargers rear on their haimches and each sturdy fighter 
strains his abilities to flay his adversary's plumes from his 
polished helmet. 

" Vigorously he slashes at them with his wooden sword, at 
the same time struggling to safeguard his own. Fierce waxes 
the fight with the cracking of swords and the clanking of armour, 
till at length when the ground is strewn with paper plumes, and 
those who have lost them are many, the king again gives word 
to his herald, who sounds his horn yet a third time. The knights 
on hearing deliver no farther blows, but retire to their order. 
EKs Majesty proclaims in his clear ringing voice which company 
has triumphed. The announcement is received with long 
cheers and hearty. 

" These things done, all retire to the castel. , . ."* 

Throughout the whole chap-book Uncle Joe does not vouch- 

* A hypercritical reader may complain of the artificiality of this style. 
But the writer is consciously aiming at style, and the conscious eftortB 
of beginners must always look artificial. 


safe a word, and the writer does not tell us whether he Hstened 
or read the paper, or fell asleep. 

This is very true to life, for Littleman play requires no 
audience. It is not a show, but a rehearsal. While Uncle Joe 
sits in his chair before the fire Littleman camps on the hearthrug, 
and sets out his wooden toys in a pattern of life. And all the 
time he prattles away to himself. He is only half aware of the 
presence of Uncle Joe. He may from time to time feel dimly 
sorry that the old gentleman is missing so much. But Uncle 
Joe is only in the margin of his consciousness. His mind is 
really concentrated upon this realm of fancy he is creating, this 
Ilond. It is to himself that he is prattling of dragons and 
witches, of kings, castles, and knightly combat. 

All this the writer of the " Isle of Adrian " knows as well as 
any of us, you may depend upon it. For as the artist creates in 
a flash that which critics take years to expound, so the playboy 
gaily produces innumerable works of self-expression, while his 
teachers are fumbling blindly in the murk of theoretical 

Education will always be the stodgy process it is to-day, until 
teachers throw the pedagogical professors overboard, and turn 
their whole attention upon the boys. Pedagogy, forsooth ! The 
very word reeks of humbug. Play, sir, is what you need for 

If the painting of the prologue-picture to the" Isle of Adrian " 
had been left to me I should have put in the hands of the 
preoccupied Uncle Joe, not a newspaper, but a volume of 
" Education in the Home." But sarcasm is an adult vice. 

The reader must not expect me to reason him into a belief in 
Ilonds considered as a device of educational method. There has 
already been far too much vague nonsense talked about " training 
the imagination," " exercising the boy in self-expression," and 
so on by people who haven't a notion how to set about it. There 
have been whole conferences and books without number devoted 
to such theoretical recommendations. It is high time to suggest 
something in the way of practice, and let psychology be a while. 

Many teachers, it is to be feared, will consider Ilonds a 
childish game, appropriate only for leisure hours in the nursery. 



Others, possibly, will allow Ilonds in the schoolroom, and then 
spoil them by making them properly instriictional. And many 
teachers of English will cast these proposals aside as a waste of 
the all-too-brief time allotted to literature. K so, I hope that 
one day, when in search of out-of the-way words with which to 
puzzle their pupils, or " stiff " pieces of poetry to be paraphrased 
into a prose mince, these good people may light upon a certain 
book which, though inappropriately named, is yet the supreme 
masterpiece among Ilonds. A king with, his son and their 
attendant lords are cast ashore upon an Ilond. There are also a 
few shipwrecked mariners. In a cave there lives a strange 
beast, whose mother was a witch. The Ilond is full of little 
elfin people who spend the hours in play, now mock the travellers, 
and anon sing and dance to the waves upon the yellow sands. 
The master of the Ilond is a sorcerer, and at his bidding an airy 
sprite, whom he freed from a cloven pine, does many wonderful 

The homework for teachers will be to analyse the last 




This is the best fooling, when all is done. 

" Twelfth Night ' 

In a book concerned with educational method — for this is a 
book on educational method, however remotely it may be 
connected with modem classroom practice — ^the subject of Play- 
town must be treated but briefly. For Playtown is essentially 
an out-of-school occupation, and most teachers will not consent 
to be bothered with it. But there are some who will take any 
amount of trouble to cater for their boys' real interests, and 
some who themselves are players by nature, and it is to the ear 
and to the fancy of these that the following notes on Playtown 
are commended. 

For the site of your Playtown you take a spare piece of land. 
It may be a waste patch near the scullery, or an unused comer 
of the kitchen garden, or, as in our case, a mere back yard. This 
terrain you will transform into a model countryside. It may 
be that you have soil and sand and sods of earth at your com- 
mand, and if so, your way is made more easy. But we had 
nothing to work upon but a concrete back yard. The only 
encouraging circumstance was the opportunity of water-supply 
from a tap ten yards off and round the comer of the house. 

First a load of coarse gravel and a load of sand were procured. 
These were dumped in the middle of the yard, and for lack of a 
shovel I distributed the heaps with a broom. It is perhaps, 
worth recording that a heap of sand can be shifted more expedi- 
tiously with a broom than by shovelling it about in spadefuls. 

The yard sloped gradually towards a drain. So in plotting 
the river-course I began at the far end from the drain ; and 
added length to the proposed river by setting a hill in the direct 



route to the drain. This made it necessary for the river-course 
to go up and round. The river was to be supphed by means of 
a hose from the tap round the comer. 

To keep the water within the gravel banks it was of course 
necessary to cement them. So I ordered a sack of cement, and 
we sifted the sand from our hills. We soon grew proficient in 
the craft of mortar-mixing and cementing. The river banks 
were made about four inches high at first. But as soon as the 
water was put in it became apparent that the banks near the 
drain would have to be built some inches higher. For the water 
of course did not run straight down the drain, but was dammed 
just above it to give us some depth. But while the depth at 
the end of the coiu'se was over six inches there was (owing to the 
slope) no water at all in the upper reaches. It was therefore 
necessary to put in a lock. For the gates we took two small 
square tiles (only one for each end of the lock), and made cement 
grooves for them to slide into as a window slides up and down 
in its frame. There was some skilful trowel-work about that 
lock. A similar single gate at the lowest part of the river kept 
the water above the level of the drain. 

We kept our railway dead straight with a view to running 
the trains on a cable system. The advantage of the cable 
system in toy trains is that it enables you from either terminus 
to stop the train at any point. The disadvantage is that it is 
very difficult to avoid getting the cable, or belt, either too 
tight or too loose. 

We decided that our railway should encounter and overcome 
by means of embankment, tunnel, bridge, and cutting all the 
difiiculties it was possible to contrive. The track started on 
an embankment with a station. Then it plunged into a tuimel 
under the hill and emerged upon the second station. A bridge 
spanned the river, intentionally at its widest point, and an islet 
mysteriously sprang up in the middle to facilitate this engineer- 
ing feat. There was another station cut precipitously out of 
the far hill-side, and the track terminated just beyond. 

It is impossile to do any practical surveying on such a 
diminutive scale, and so everji;hing was done empirically. What 
did not fit was done all over again in the light of experience. 
The most foolish mistake we made was to measure for thfi 

(rdreth Hostel (jieen Hill Uppei Ri\ei and Lock 

The Market-Place, St. NiLUoU'b bt.itiou, and Castle Hill 


height of the bridge from the bed of the river (the water was 
turned off while we were working there) instead of allowing for 
the height of a ship from the surface of the water. The level 
of the whole railway track could not be raised to correct this 
error, because the timnel was already finished, and a strong 
cement castle had been built on the hill over it.* And of 
course the whole river level could not be lowered. So the rail- 
way bridge was only some three inches above the river surface 
Instead of a good six, and no boats other than barges could 
pass beneath. 

It happened at this time that two inspectors came specially 
down from Whitehall to see what all this Play Way business 
was about. After they had seen all the things we did in the 
classroom they were suddenly taken to a back yard and con- 
fronted with Playtown. Both were surprised of course, but 
while one stood and nursed his amazement — stood upon a 
farmyard and made great ruin — ^the other grasped the Play 
idea at once, and, setting aside officialdom and pedagogy, went 
down on his knees and endeavoured to solve the problem of 
the bridge. The Tower Bridge device and all sorts of swing- 
bridges, such as he and others suggested, were impracticable, 
because toy railway lines are made in sections which must 
remain joined. In the end we had to make a steep gradient 
from the tunnel and onwards to make room for boats to pass 
under the bridge. This steep gradient has been a nuisance to 
us ever since. 

In the beginning the first form was admitted to Playtown 
for one period a week during school hours. But there were too 
many boys for the small yard, and as the game was new to them 
they all needed direction, and careful watching lest they did 
damage. So classes were abandoned, and Playtown became the 
haunt of a chosen few out of school hours. There were generally 
about six or eight there at a time. In all, some fifty or sixty 

* The photographs show the castle on the hill over the tunnel, but the 
plan of Playtown shows it in another situation. This is because the 
photographs were taken in 1913, and the plan represents the countryside 
as it was in 1915. Various other discrepancies are to be explained by this 
fact, the principal ones being the disappearance of Gareth Hostel, and the 
coming of a Netherland with a Tramway in its place; and the conversion 
of the whole hill above St. David's into one tremendous citadel. 



boys of all ages ranging from nine to nineteen had their part in 
the building up and carrying on of this miniature countryside. 

The making of the river and the railway (and playing with 
them) occupied all our spare time during the first summer term. 
The following season we covered the gravel with a layer of soil 
and planted grass and the cuttings of trees. Little wooden 
houses were made, and meadows and farms were fenced in and 
filled with a great variety of live stock. Roads were driven 
across the land, wharves appeared here and there along the river 
banks, with cranes and warehouses for the merchandise, and 
the railway stations became Uttle centres of civic life. We 
found the cable system too difficult to work with any certainty, 
and abandoned it in the second year for clockwork engine power. 

Most of the inhabitants were perforce military. It is possible 
to obtain from toy-shops a railway staff and a boK of civilians. 
But in the experience of toy-naakers there are only eight civilian 
t3^es. Two of these are the same female figure, but painted in 
(Afferent colours, and three more are men in uniform, a policeman, 
a yachtsman, and a chauffeur. There is no shopkeeper, no 
workman, no newsboy, no loafer. Just two clerks, one man in 
a sun-hat, two identical women, and then back we go to uniforms. 
The public in this matter, as in all its dealings with manufacturers, 
must just take what it can get or go without. The commercial 
man's idea of service is to follow his own limited notions, and 
then to thrust his shoddy wares down the throats of the com- 
munity, shrieking aloud to them all the while to avoid imitations. 
If this were true only of children's toys it would be bad enough, 
but it is very much the same with all the things we have to buy. 

As time went on certain boys claimed estates of their own 
and colonized them. There were many residences, a few farms, 
two fortresses, a coal-mine, a builder's yard, and a market-place. 
The builder's merchant supplied gravel and sand, and stakes 
for palings. He also kept little cement bricks, which, however, 
every one made for himself, and no one ever used. The " Deep 
Drop Coal Mine " was owned by Digging Bros., and worked by 
some boy scouts, a wounded soldier, and a chauffeur because 
he had a lamp. There was a superstructure of "meccano," 
and a cage which went down into the pit The usual stock of 
merchandise upon a wharf consisted of little sacks filled with 


sand. These could be grain in times of peace and protective 
sand-bags in time of war. Cats and dogs were to be found near 
the houses ; and rabbits, pigs, cows, horses, and even a few wild 
boars lived in the fields. Every household had its baby, but 
sometimes exigency of circumstance compelled a white mother 
to adopt a black piccaninny. 

Diiring the third season many improvements were made. 
The countryside was extended by the addition of territory, and 
became half as large again. The railway was also extended by 
the addition of a branch line with another station. The grass 
was now well tended ; and the Uttle roads, just wide enough 
for a boy to walk along by putting one foot carefully before the 
other, were kept neat by frequent sprinklings of fresh sand. 
The introduction of paint made the whole place look much 
brighter and more toy-like, for houses, wharves, station platform, 
bridges, and fences, as well as the boats and trains, were painted 
all manner of gay colours. 

The general lines of play as it is carried on with toy trains 
and boats and lead soldiers must be known to all. There is no 
space here to go into the details of floor-games. But a few 
particulars of our especial play may be given. We rarely went 
to war, for the boys foimd ample occupation in the ordering of 
each his own domain and in commercial transactions. As a genial 
onlooker once observed, " Here is citizenship in the concrete." 

Little clockwork tugs pulled laden barges up the river, 
bumping first into one bank and then into the other, and some- 
times wasting so much power on the journey that they could 
not face the outrush of water when the lock was opened. Trains 
ignored the signals, ran off the rails, stopped dead in the tunnel, 
or came in collision with one another, as they do in nurseries 
and playrooms everywhere. Boys shouted up the river or down 
the line, " I'm sending you a ton of coal for Mr. Orkney," or 
" The guard has orders to wait for the key of the small engine." 
There were excited shouts whenever accidents happened, and 
shouts more excited still when they didn't. Cries of " Just 
look at The Little Beast coming into my wharf ! " " Mind your 
silly head out of the light," and " Sir, sir, sir \ " were heard on 
all sides. There seemed to be enough to do in this little world 
without any need of war. 



In a small shed the work of fretsawing and hammering and 
painting went steadily on. And while some were indulging in 
mere fun others took it in turns to cut the grass on the common 
land, to tidy up the roads, and to renew paint-work that didn't 
need renewal. These gatherings took place after school in the 
summer evenings, and occasionally during half-holidays when 
the citizens were not " down " for compulsory games. 

At first we used to repair to the house for an interval for tea, 
but the boys were so absorbed in Playtown that they actually 
asked, not without some fear of seeming rude, that tea might 
be aboUshed, because " it takes up time." The refreshment, 
however, was not entirely abolished, but adapted to the circum- 
stances, and we had set out upon one of our benches a bottle 
of lime-juice with jugs and glasses, and a round tray piled witl 
buns. Thus we were able to eat and drink without interrupting 
the play. 

The features of the landscape were soon named, there was 
Green Hill and Castle Hill, and Adrian's wharf with the Deep 
Drop Coal Mine (Digging Bros.). The harbour and railway 
station adjoining the river sluice were called St. Louis on that 
account. The places at the other termini of the railway were 
called St. NichoU's and St. David's after their respective founders, 
who, however, had not previously been canonized. The river 
had its source in a waterfall (of which, by the way, any " land- 
scape gardener " might have been proud), but this waterfall was 
not named, because it was in the " Undiscovered Country." 

These are the hills, these are the woods, 
These are my starry soHtudes ; 
And there the river by whose brink 
The roaring lions come to drink. 

The lake into which the water fell was called " The Lake of 
Magellan " after another boy, until an explorer was drowned in 
it, and then it became " Dead Man's Lake." 

The body of the explorer was recovered and conveyed down 
the river in a barge with much funeral pomp. He was buried 
with military honours on the slopes of Castle Hill, and a monu- 
ment erected to his memory. Here the intrepid one lay in 
peace for two years, until, being exhumed by chance one day 


during excavations, he was resuscitated and restored to his rank 
in the army. His cenotaph remains — a hollow mockery. 

The reader may recall " The Dumb Soldier " of Stevenson, 
who had the enviable experience of lying buried for a season. 

Under grass alone he lies. 
Looking up with leaden eyes. 
Scarlet coat and pointed gun 
To the stars and to the sun. 

I shall find him, never fear, 
I shall find my grenadier ; 
But for all that's gone and come, 
I shall find my soldier dumb. 

When a man falls into the water a crane is hxuried to the 
spot. If he can be fished out at the first angling he may live, 
but if not, he is presumed dead, and becomes for the time being 
a thing of naught. 

The " Undiscovered Country " is known to be inhabited by 
various tribes, whose history would make an interesting study 
for an ethnologist. For it is said by those who live at " The 
Last Post " that one of these warring factions is led by one 
Hullabaloo the Zulu, and another by a certain Hitchy Koo or 
Bread upon the Waters, a Red Indian Chief. Another attractive 
personality, who made his first and only appearance at a War 
Council of the Powers, was Tin Can, the Chinese ambassador. 

We have made so little of wars that the subject need not be 
treated here. The reader is referred to Mr. H. G. Wells's " Little 
Wars," upon whose rules of campaigning we based our own. 
Of the many interesting civil events which occurred during our 
four Playtown seasons I have space to record fully but one. 

Sir George Thorpe, a landowner of local importance, was 
asked by Mr. Flaggy, the station-master of St. NichoU's, to plant 
a tree, in commemoration of some event not stated. The 
occasion was an important one, and the whole countryside 
made ready to attend the ceremony. But a difficulty arose 
from the fact that each household seemed to have a double in 
every other household. The station staff at St. David's could 
not be distinguished from those at Castle Hill Station. And 
Mr. Orkney so closely resembled C. Tain, the builder's merchant, 

M 1T7 


that Mrs. Orkney refused to let her husband travel in the same 
train, for fear of " mixing him up." 

Matters came to a head when Sir George Thorpe declared, 
with some heat, that unless that journalist fellow, Mr. Noseabout, 
ceased to duplicate him in every particular he would plant no 
trees — ^no, not though the military paraded six regiments, and 
all the military bands in the comitry played " He's a Jolly good 
fellow." Things were looking very gloomy, and it seemed as 
though the pubUc holiday would have to be abandoned, when 
suddenly one of the trolley porters of St. David's fell into a pot 
of white enamel, and was fished out a milkman \ The solution 
of the difficulty was hailed with delight, and every one hurried 
home to change his clothes. Sir George left the joiunalist 
fellow to wear navy blue and himself appeared in a rich brown 
— of which trouble was to arise. Train after train now arrived 
at St. NichoU's bringing families hardly yet dry in their new 
clothes, and with them their domestic pets. Army and Navy 
were both represented, and it was rumoured afterwards that 
even Hiillabaloo the Zulu had painted little white buttons on 
his brown skin and come to the great tree-planting. 

Speeches were made, the tree was duly planted, bands 
played, and the soldiers fired what some one in the crowd called 
a "Few de Joy." And then discord arose. Sir (Jeorge having 
had the bad taste in his third speech to make some scathing 
remarks about journalists, Mr. Noseabout, the reporter, clad 
in neat blue serge, referred impudently to Sir George as " that 
chocolate eclair." The crowd began to shout and to take sides, 
and soon there would have been a tumult, had not the captain 
of the garrison, with admirable presence of mind, opened fire 
with his guns upon the populace. 

Now it happened that in the assembly was a quiet little 
woman, Mrs. Bimbo by name, a lodging-house keeper. Finding 
that it was growing late, and not being particularly interested 
in the quelling of riots, Mrs. Bimbo decided to go home " and 
cook the chops for her young gentlemen's dinners," But when 
she arrived at the station there was no train and no staff. 

It was all deserted around, 
For they all had gone to the fab, sir, 
And there was no one to be found, 


It was a long walk home to the other side of Castle 
Hill by road, so Mrs. Bimbo decided to take a short cut through 
the idle tunnel. A few minutes later, the riot 
haying been cut short by the death by misadventure of 
Mr. Noseabout, the return excursion train started from 
St. NichoU's. And the young gentlemen had no chops for their 
diimer that night, for little Mrs. Bimbo had been decapitated 
in the tunnel. 

There have been, of course, many tragedies and romances 
connected with the railway. One of the most remarkable 
was the case of old Mr. Peaky, the railway official, who spent 
a whole winter in the tunnel. On his being recovered 
in the early summer it occurred to some one, apropos of nothing 
at all, that poor Mr. Peaky in his present state was " the 
image of Ibsen." None of us understood why, but Mr. Peaky 
was honoured accordingly, and placed on a pedestal in the 

While Playtown is in full activity every one has to be careful 
where he steps, and to walk only on the appointed " treads." 
For one is a Gulliver in this Lilliputian land. But towards the 
end of the season we relax care, and take less interest in the 
minute things. We even run up and down by the river in sailing 
our boats, as though it were a dyke and had no roads, fences, 
buildings, and wharves along its banks. Thus it happens that 
with the restoration of each returning spring, many relics are 
excavated which were trodden into the ground in the autumn. 
A boy digging the foundations of his new house, or making a 
cutting for a railway extension, will unearth old walls, pieces of 
machinery, bits of forgotten people, and all manner of treasure. 
These we carefully preserve in a Playtown Museum kept in the 
shed. The finds are labelled with the most romantic ascriptions : 
" Roof beams of a manor house of the last century unearthed 
on the site of the present Gareth Hostel." " Rim and a few 
spokes of an old cart-wheel found when digging the Well of 
the Lady Oliver." * The query sometimes seen on museum 
labels is also quaintly mimicked : " ? Skull of a Zulu warrior." 
" ? Funnel of a primitive steam-engine." And so on. This may 
be poor funfor the adult reader, and offensive to an archaeologist, 
* This name was not a corruption of Olivia, but had a separate origin. 



but it is excellent play. For who that knows boys will 
deny that they love excavations, and can appreciate the 
excitement of a find as keenly as the most learned geologist ? 
And surely it is better for them to dig up something which 
really is exciting than to fall back always upon unsupported 
make-believe. But I must not argue here, for an under- 
standing of Playtown, more than of all these other 
schemes, depends upon one's having a player's instinct. And 
that is imcommunicable. 

Our Playtown in shape is an irregular oblong, and in size 
some four yards by fourteen. There are four hills, the largest 
of which is about two feet in height. Those who wish to make 
a Playtown are recommended to go where soil is available, for 
in our yard more than a dozen loads of ^avel, sand, and soil 
have been required to form the land. Cement is necessary if 
you propose to have any water. We used about a sack and a 
half of cement each season, for the banks of the river need 
occasional repair, and new cement is always being laid for 
wharves and station platforms and to support the sides of cuttings 
on roads and railway. Cement-work can be painted, but the 
colour fades rapidly imtil several coats have been applied. 
Battlements can be cast or carved in cement, but the operation 
is difficult. The round towers of our castle were made by 
filling coffee-tins with soft cement and ripping the tin away 
when the cement had hardened. For the water, a large lake 
would probably be more convenient than a river. The river 
current makes navigation difficult for tiny clockwork boats. 
Also a flowing river, if not given constant attention, will over- 
flow. We had many floods. If possible your whole Playtown 
should be raised three feet or so from the ground. It would 
thus be easy to handle things without sitting on the ground or 
stooping, and, more important still, the coimtryside would not 
be constantly trodden upon. We were always having to repair 
damage done by our careless feet. One way of getting the 
Playtown three feet above ground level would be to build a 
wall all round the proposed coast-line and then fill the space 
enclosed. But a simpler plan would be to make your Play- 
town on ground level, and then dig trenches round it, to 
walk in. 

Adrian's Wharf and the Deep Drop Coal Mine 

The Capture of St. Nioholl's 


The country itself is permanent — for the season. Houses 
and stations can also be made to stand the weather. But 
railway lines, trains, boats, and the inhabitants should be put 
away in a shed for the night. 

A Playtown of course demands a certain amount of attention. 
You cannot keep the little country in trim if you bestow no 
more care on it than you would upon nursery floor-games. 
But there is no reason why a man or a boy should not spend as 
much care and attention upon such a thing as this as he would 
upon his garden. During the summer term I was accustomed 
to give ten or twelve hours a week myself to working at Play- 
town, though this of course included building new features and 
repairing old ones, as well as tending the place in a general 

Needless to say we do not anticipate that there will ever be 
many Playtowns. But those few players who like the idea 
may be glad of the above hints. 

The Play Way, let it be said again, is not the easy way. 
You cannot just throw a few materials to the boys and leave 
them to amuse themselves. They will find enough sheer amuse- 
ment in their own free time ; but where a teacher takes part 
the play should be something of pith and substance. There is 
more hard work, even actual labour, attached to the Play Way 
schemes than there is in classroom " work." And the driving 
power, which enables both the boys and the masters to undertake 
the arduous duties which are always part and parcel of real 
play, is interest. If it chance that you are so made that you 
could never take an active interest in Playtown, then of course 
you will leave it alone and try something else. But if any one 
fancies that grown-up people (grave and reverend signiors as 
we all fancy we are) cannot be thoroughly enchanted with 
such toys as clockwork boats and trains, then he is blind. Men 
and women do not play with toys, simply because they are too 
busy or because toys are not at hand. But while Pla5i;own 
has been available many grown men and several women have 
spent hours playing there. And on more than one occasion, 
when the Littlemen had all gone home to bed, three or foiur 
staid and responsible adults have left care behind them in the 
house, and come out with me after dinner to sail the boats and 



to run the trains. When it grew too dark to see any longer we 
did not go in, but brought out lighted candles and still pursued 
the game. Sometimes we have played away the length of two 
whole candles after dark. 

" But what has all this to do with education ? " you may 
ask. Yes, you may well ask ; but, like Shylock, " I'll not 
answer that 1 " 



Within this wooden O. 

" Henry V " 

A TEACHER who is dcsirous of adopting play-methods with his 
boys in connexion with at least some of their lessons will perhaps 
at first find some difficulty in devising schemes of play. It is 
too much to expect that the boys or the master should start 
suddenly from their desks and say, " Go to, we will now study 
in the Play Way." For the teacher of English the easiest way 
of making a start is obviously to let the boys act some story or 
portion of a book which they are reading. It is of course out 
of the question for any one to sit down and write a dramatic 
version of the story. The thing must be acted extempore in 
the classroom. But unless you happen to have a special knack 
of casting stories into dramatic form you may find yourself in 
difficulties at the very start. And it is very disheartening to 
the boys if their experiments keep falling through, and the play 
of which so much was expected turns out a failure. 

We early formed a habit of dramatizing almost everything 
we read. But at first I used to give the boys suggestions of a 
scheme of action. This was a very simple aid, but without it 
the boys never would have found the acting successful. 

What is meant by planning the play will be seen best in an 
actual illustration. In dramatizing the story of Beowulf, the 

* This chapter should have been on " Acting in the Classroom," 
but in writing it I found that apart from matters in connexion with 
Shakespeare, there was very little of importance to say, which is not 
dealt with in the chapters on "Miming" and on " Playmaking." 
After all, if you can act Shakespeare you can act anything, and if you 
cannot act even Shakespeare you might as well sit down again. 



boys would be qiiite likely to begin with the coming of Beowulf 
to the land of Hrothgar. But as Beowulf is coming to help 
Hrothgar against the demon Grendel, who has teen carrying 
off his men, it is obvious that earlier scenes must show Hrothgar 
in his difBculty. Accordingly one would take as the first scene 
the building of the hall Heorot, and the holding of a beer- 
drinking there as a celebration. The building of the hall, 
presents no difficulties in the classroom, as it may be thought 
although it is best (if you have to avoid making a noise, out of 
consideration for the neighbouring classes) to repair to the 
gymnasium or some empty place afar off. Of course you do 
not dwell in the hall you build ! We simply stood a few benches 
on end to represent the trees of the forest. Then the king 
entered and, after announcing in a fine speech his intention of 
building a great hall, directed his men to hew down the trees. 
This they soon accomplished, and then two men to each log 
bore away the timber, chanting a song as they went. If you 
wish to show the actual building operations they are easily 
represented by going through the motions of sawing, planing, 
and so on, but as there is but small opportunity for anything 
of purpose to be said at this point it is best to set your second 
scene as the interior of the finished hall. But note, in passing, 
that when your playboys become expert in acting and play- 
making they will, at such a jimcture as this, interpolate a comic 
scene in which the builders rag one another and make comments 
upon life in general. This interpolated comic scene is of course 
borrowed from Shakespeare as instanced in the porter in 
" Macbeth," and the grave-digger in " Hamlet." But the 
tradition goes back to the Miracle Plays, and further. 

During this second scene Hrothgar, the king, makes a great 
speech, inaugurating the hall and foreteUing many a feast 
therein and the prospect of long and happy days. Then the 
minstrel comes forward and chants a lay* in praise of Hrothgar 

* As all this actually took place it is possible to state that a boy 
tan chant an extempore lay. Beowulf was dramatized in the first 
instance by Form lib (average age about 12). No book was used. 
The story was told by the master, first as a whole and then in the sections 
as required in detail for each scene. Certain simple elements of the 
style, such as alliteration, were explained. And for the purposes of 
the lay balance of phrasing was also mentioned. Ttus and other chants 


and the new dwelling, tells of other noble kings and other jBne 
halls, and praises Hrothgar and Heorot above them all. A 
touch of irony may fitly be introduced here. It would be well 
in keeping with the spirit of a minstrel's lay, if he should refer 
to the troubles and disasters which had overcome those kings 
and those castles. This touch will actually be found in the 
epic, where it is foretold that Heorot would end by fire. 

Now, of course, the boys prepare to sleep upon the benches, 
and Grendel draws on his huge fur gloves (his claws) in view 
of a predatory onslaught. But the master intervenes. This 
is not the way to tell a story dramatically. They are in too 
much of a hurry to reach the climax. But how are we to delay 
the coming of Grendel and give Hrothgar and his men at least 
a few days of peace in their new hall ? Obviously by interpolating 
a scene in some other place, and introducing some other charac- 
ters of the story. It might be well to show Beowulf at home 
in the court of Hygelac ; or even to have a scene of the mumbling 
and grumbling of Grendel and his dam over a few well-gnawed 
bones, which would prepare us for the coming raid upon Heorot. 

Some such planning and direction of the dramatized story 
is essential. But, as I have said, it may be that the master 
has not a previous knowledge of this craft nor a ready knack 
of invention. In that case the affair will be a fiasco, or at best 
a muddle-through on the part of the boys. 

Well, these things can be learnt. One is not bom with a 
working knowledge of playmaking and dramatic conventions. 
We have learnt all we know in this kind from Shakespeare. 
The best way to make a start in classroom acting is to take a 
play of Shakespeare and act it. The boys will there find that 
everything is set down for them in the book. 

After having performed but one play they will be more at 
ease in moving about the classroom, and consequently more 
able to devise play-methods of studying matters which are not 
in themselves dramatic. 

were distinctly rhythmical, but we used no melody at this time. Folk- 
airs, especially chanteys, might be introduced with excellent effect. 
For an example of the style of speech attained by the boys in this ex- 
periment see Perse Playbooks, No. 4, pp. 124, 125. The other Beowulf 
pieces in that book belong to a different occasion. 



However young the boys may be, provided they are over 
ten, a Shakespeare play is the most useful beginning.* Some 
teachers are afraid of the difficulties of the language. This is 
perhaps because they have been accustomed to look out for 
difficulties in the subjects they teach, and to base their instruc- 
tions principally upon such things.f If the teacher has had to 
prepare his boys for examinations this will certainly be the case. 
But if the chief interest of the boys is centred in the story of 
the play as shown in the action and the speeches of the charac- 
ters, it will be found afterwards that the plot of the play has 
been perfectly well imderstood, and that the characters have 
become familiar friends. And what, after all, could you desire 
further of a small boy's first study of Shakespeare ? Of course 
there may be scores of matters left untouched which might 
have been made the subject-matter of the whole term's lessons. 
But if your time is limited you must decide between the play 
and these unessential matters. If you decide on acting, then 
" the play's the thing," and the " might have beens " can for 
the moment be disregarded. 

If time allows, the numerous matters of study connected with 
a play of Shakespeare can be dealt with afterwards. Although 
we have always made it our first care to act the play simply as 
a play, even the lowest forms have been taught many things 
connected with the life and times of Shakespeare, either in a 
few words in passing or in lessons set apart. We have of course 
made a point of understanding the historical events upon which 
" Henry V " or " Richard II " are based ; and the boys them- 
selves have given lectures on such subjects as " The Colossus," 
" Tudor Architecture," " Domestic Life in Shakespeare's 
Time," J "Nine Men's Morris," "Fairies and Witches," 
" Rogues and Vagabonds," " The Globe Theatre," and so on. 
We have even on occasion gone very thoroughly into the study 
of the three authentic portraits of Shakespeare. The study of 
blank verse metre has also been undertaken in connexion with 

* For boys under ten the traditional ballads afford the best material 
for dramatization. 

t Cf. p. 195. 

X A verbatim report of this lecture is given in Perse Playbooks 
No. 4. 


every play, not idly, but for use in the boys' own poems and 
playmaking. So far from overlooking or ignoring the intel- 
lectual and learned side of Shakespeare study, we have gone 
most thoroughly into every branch of it, whether in the literary 
aspect, the archaiological aspect, the aspect of the craftsman- 
ship of dramatic art, or the mere technicalities of stage procedure. 
But these things were not all huddled together in a mess during 
the study of one play. Whatever the master knew in this 
" subject " he taught, sometimes discoursing throughout a 
whole period to the fourth form on the meaning of tragedy, 
sometimes entertaining Ilia by comparisons between the art 
of Elizabethan days and the music-halls and cinemas and 
concerts of our own time, sometimes merely chatting about 
living actors and their ways, and what they had said in this or 
that Shakespearean connexion. But all this was based upon, 
and most intimately bound up with, the actual liviiig familiarity 
which the boys had made with the plays by acting them. A 
man or a boy who has acted through a play of Shakespeare will 
not require any bidding to listen to a learned discoiurse upon 
that play, its characters, its plot, and its illustrations of the 
dramatist's skill in the use of stage conventions. A fellow so 
primed with the means of appreciative study as this acting 
gives simply demands lectures by a master. But the lectures 
to be interesting, to be imderstood, to be effective as instruction, 
must be given in response to a demand. They must come 
after a familiarity with the subject-matter of the play has 
whetted the appetite for closer study. Hunger is the best 
sauce, but surfeit ruins the digestion. 

With a play to act and all these humanist studies to be 
undertaken in connexion with it, it will easily be understood 
how a playmaster is not only wiling to ignore parsing, para- 
phrasing, and the cramming of notes and introductions,* but 
feels himself in a position to dispute with (and even to ridicule) 
those who give all their attention to such things. The impor- 
tant thing about the study of Shakespeare on the Play Way is 

* I need hardly say that I have obtained much help from the schol- 
arly notes of the late Dr. Aldis Wright. But such notes are not adapted 
for class use. They should be studied by the teacher, and only put 
into a bov's hands if he is preparing for a lecture or an essay. 



that the play must be acted first, acted two or three times if 
possible. And while this acting is going on all matters which 
do not forward the acting must be held in suspension. 

But one must not too hastily cast aside in the acting lessons 
all that does not immediately concern the story of the play 
and the actors. Although we shall at first refrain from any 
detailed study of words and phrases, and any pedantic investi- 
gation into the meaning of every allegory, allusion, metaphor, 
or reference to mythology, we must nevertheless remember 
that this is a play which we are acting, and not merely a tale 
which we are reading aloud. And the acting of a play demands 
the consideration of many things in addition to the story and 
the persons. So long as the boys were only allowed to sit in 
their desks and read in turn, even the stage directions were of 
no accoimt, but so soon as they begin acting everything is 

There must be a stage of some sort, even if it is but a space 
cleared of desks and left quite bare. There must be recognized 
entrances and exits. Then you must consider what you propose 
to do about scenery and costume and properties. Above all 
there is the acting itself, for the performance of a play does not 
consist of reading speeches in rotation. 

Now it happens that the study of Shakespeare is full of 
helpful instruction in these very matters ; and this, quite apart 
from their unapproachable literary value, is an excellent reason 
for starting with the plays of Shakespeare, however difficult 
they may seem at first sight, rather than pottering about with 
that feeble amateur rubbish which is sometimes sent to one on 

Since " the dramatic method of teaching " first came into 
notice, publishers have turned out numerous books of " Plays 
for Schools," not so much to meet a demand as in the hope of 
creating one. The playlets thus offered to us are generally 
written by inexperienced schoohnistresses, and have no spark 
of literary value nor any dramatic power whatever. To shun 
Shakespeare for his difficulty, and fall into the accommodating 
laps of these dear ladies would indeed be a sorry descent. 

In discussing educational method one ought perhaps to take 
for granted that the teacher at least knows his subject. But 


there are many ways of being learned in a subject so extensive 
as Shakespeare. The Shakespearean learning of most school- 
masters is of an exclusively literary kind, and in consequence 
they find themselves none too well equipped to direct the study 
of a Shakespeare play in any active form. 

Indeed, it may be stated (for there is nothing to be gained 
and much to lose by concealing the fact) that most teachers 
bother their classes with word-study, and the pursuit of 
references to gods and heroes, and the solution of other riddles, 
simply because they have not the requisite knowledge safely 
to leave these academic questions and deal with what really 
is proper to the study of a Shakespeare play. 

It will therefore be in place to describe fully the manner in 
which our playboys have been trained to look to the play for 
most of what they require, and in all things appertaining to the 
production to trust to Shakespeare himself. For though he is 
generally regarded as a happy-go-lucky playwright who achieved 
all his success by some slapdash method vouchsafed only to 
genius, Shakespeare has nevertheless stood ever before us 
players as a model of the most perfect yet unobtrusive crafts- 

The chief point about a stage-play is that it is meant to be 
played on a stage. Therefore, whether you are studying some- 
one else's play or making one of your own, you at once seek 
after a stage. And if a wicked generation determine that no 
stage be given you, you fall back upon the natural resources 
of the player, and make-believe a stage : fashion a heaven in 
hell's despite, and proceed with your playing maugre the un- 

Acting on an imaginary stage is not so impossible as it may 
appear. It is in fact the invariable custom of the playboys in 
the classroom.*' We invented the imaginary stage because our 
thorough study of Shakespeare on the Play Way demanded 

* For the last two terms of our four years' course we did have a 
Uttle school stage. We designed it to suit our Elizabethan methods of 
production, and made great use of it. The story of our experiences 
with this playhouse, which we called The Mummery, would be very 
interesting to tell, but as the work of most of my readers is necessarily 
confined to the classroom, only classroom acting shall be considered in 
this chapter. 



an Elizabethan setting, and this we could only supply in our 

The imaginary stage we use for the study of Shakespeare 
in the classroom is naturally that of an Elizabethan playhouse. 
This was not the picture stage familiar at the present day, with 
its picture-frame proscenium arch, its front curtain, and its 
footlights, but the platform stage, which happily is being re- 
introduced, with its natural accompaniments of diffused light- 
ing, and with hangings and other decoration in place of painted 
canvas scenery.* 

All the while the boys are playing Shakespeare in the class- 
room they consider themselves subject to most of the conditions 
of an Elizabethan playhouse stage, and they observe the con- 
ventions which such a setting would require. This method of 
acting Shakespeare is carried out very thoroughly. Yet the 
reader must not hastily conclude with a chuckle that we are as 
academic about our stage conventions as are any of the pedants 
we abuse about their book-lore. 

Some one may say that the conventions are of small account, 
and that a Shakespeare play is just as valuable a hterary study 
when these are ignored. This is a false and ignorant view. 
For the Shakespeare plays were wrought with such care to fit 
the Elizabethan conditions of stage production that to leave this 
fact out of accoimt is to produce nothing but a travesty of the 
plays. Without a full respect for these conventions you do 
not get the real Shakespeare at all, but a modern translation. 
The truth of this will be made apparent later. 

That is the first reason for acting the plays in the Elizabethan 
manner. But from the point of view of classroom production 
there are many other reasons. When one of the Littlemen is 
cast to play Titania, he and his companions will realize the 

* The researches of E. K. Chambers, William Poel, W. J. Lawrence, 
and many others have established beyond any reasonable doubt the 
shape of an Elizabethan playhouse stage and the conditions that governed 
it. Many readers will have seen Granville Barker's recent London 
productions in which a front stage was used, though the shows were 
not Elizabethan in many other respects. The above-mentioned writers 
ehould be consulted, but the reader is warned against unscholarly 
treatises on the subject. The chapter in the " Cambridge History of 
Literature," for example, is of little value for our purpose. 

The Witches and Hecate in •■ Macbeth 

[Set" fi'fit-iHjte on p. IIH 


The Three Murderers in " Macbeth" 

|S(\e foot-note on p. I'Jl 


fairy queen more truly in the rich robes woven of their own 
fancy than they could do were she decked out in the poor 
tinsel makeshift so painfully familiar in school performances.* 

A boy reading a play from the book for the first time might 
be expected at most to imderstand the sense of the words, but 
not to express it at all. And this is what happens when the 
play is undertaken in the spelling-bee manner of a literary 
society, the boys all sitting in the stocks and spouting in turn. 
But by letting them act the scenes you will fimd that they not 
only take in the sense, but bring it out. 

Action requires its fit setting. Shakespeare, having no 
artificial stage pictures to rely upon as a background, described 
the necessary scenery in the words of the play. The classroom 
has no painted canvas background either, and so the boys 
welcome and appreciate that wonderful word-painting. For 
the active imagination of the poet-player the beauty of the 
lines calls up a far more satisfying surrounding than a painted 
cloth can do, even when aided by lights and music. 

A good playwright not oijy realizes that he must build 
his play in accordance with the conditions of the stage, but, 
what is far more important, he relies for some of his neatest 
touches, and some of his finest effects, on those very conven- 
tions which would hamper a weaker craftsman. A playboy 
who has been trained to observe this in the models set before 
him, and to try it for himself in his own work, will never consent 
to make sensational departures from accepted rule, nor to 
lean upon empty artificial aids. Consider the question of 
scenery. I do not say that Shakespeare would not have used 

* In The Mummery we had a grand collection of costumes and 
properties, but while we were confined to the classroom we made use 
of anything we could lay our hands on. One or two boys brought 
short cloaks, a blanket turned up from somewhere, and some scout 
hats were lent. There was also an indescribable piece of red cloth which 
did duty as every imaginable class of apparel. For properties we had 
our Morris-dancing sticks and swords — the iron swords of the Kirkby 
dance were especially favoured — ^and aU the usual appartus of a class- 
room, such as desks, benches, books, chalk-box, easel, blackboard, wall- 
map, window-blind, cord, duster, and waste-paper basket. If any class 
of playboys cannot stage a play with such a wealth of material they 
deserve to be spoon-fed. 



painted scenery if it had been obtainable. I believe he was 
the kind of craftsman who would be glad to make the best use 
of any likely aid that came his way. But I do say, that it was 
more fortunate for a man of his poetical powers, and incal- 
culably a greater gain to poetry and to drama, that there was 
not any realistic scenery available in the form of painted canvas. 
Shakespeare's plays contain almost as much descriptive poetry 
as they do speeches in character — ^the third element being the 
proverbial reflections and moralizings which so disturbed Mr. 
Bernard Shaw. There is a two-fold reason for this full flood 
of poetry. In the first place, the man Shakespeare was full 
of that power of imagery and melodious expression which kept 
overflowing in the splendour of rare description and the majesty 
of high-soimding lines. And, secondly, it was necessary to 
supply the " scenery." Had the stage been set about with 
great drop-curtains, frameworks of canvas, and painted cloths 
upon which the scenes were represented, the descriptive 
passages which now stand as half the beauty of the plays would 
have been either uimecessary or incongruous. Perhaps I shall 
be reminded that those same plays are staged to-day in a full 
setting of realistic paintings, and lighted by an ingenious 
mechanism. But, for those of us who can still hear with our 
ears and see with the eyes of imagination that far finer setting 
which is given in the lines, it is all this scenery and lime- 
lighting which are now both imnecessary and incongruous. 
When Horatio says : 

But look, the morn in russet mantle clad 
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill, 

is not all said ? Is it not unnecessary to flash about with 
pink limes — incongruous, moreover, to a ridiculous degree 
to those who know that " russet " here means grey, and 
not red at all ? And what of the " mantle " and the " dew " ? 
Since the thing cannot be adequately done with scenery, 
why not rely upon a simple decorative setting and permit 
the onlookers to do as Shakespeare directed in the prologue to 
" Henry V " ? 

Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts. 


Again, what artificial representation can do more than spoil 
Romeo's despairing note : 

Look, love, what envious streaks 
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east : 
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day 
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops : 
I must begone and live, or stay and die. 

It is noteworthy that there is here as much of the gladness 
of dawn as there is of despair. " Candles," " tiptoe " ; strange 
that these actual words should widen and extend the bounds 
of the imagined scene, while a back-cloth streaked with painted 
clouds can only narrow it. Not strange at all ; these words, 
though one is a metaphor of indoors, and the other a personi- 
fication, are bred in the bone of the play, while the canvas 
back-cloth is a piece of stupid impertinence. 

Of course it is not easy for a modem audience thus to 
fancy for themselves the imagery from the words. But con- 
temporary stage productions give us no chance to try it Who 
can enjoy a soundless rehearsal of a symphony in his head 
while a restaiu-ant band is celebrating musical comedy airs ? 
But if some one should kill all the professional managers, 
producers, and scene-painters, our living actors could at once 
play Shakespeare to us as he should be played. It has been 
done in a hole-and-corner sort of way, time and again. The 
present duty of all who are interested in the restoration of the 
real drama is to fight in favour of some such training as I hav* 
advocated in connexion with the Play Way in the classroom. 

The putting of all these passages of descriptive poetry into 
the mouths of the persons of the drama has naturally 
had a noticeable effect upon the characters as they appear 
to us. Thus, many literary critics, not being aware that 
stage conventions have an influence upon the plays, have 
conceived a very lop-sided view of Shakespeare's characters. 
Shakespeare himself was a poet, and many of his chief 
creations are poets too ; but not by any means can every one 
in the plays who utters poetry be claimed a poet. For its 
own sake the romantic drama cannot stoop to represent in 
a realistic manner the speech of all its minor personages. And 

N 193 


in many of the lines the characters, both high and low, are 
but serving the office of scene-shifters, so to say. 

In contrast to such a scene-painting as Oberon's description 
of the bower of the Fairy Queen, 

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows, 

consider those gentlemen in shirt-sleeves whom one sometimes 
sees rushing on just as the scene-drop comes down. How flurried 
they are about their packing-cases, and their shrubs and their 
ivy twigs. Dear souls ! so eager, and only to spoil the play. 
And as the curtain goes up again twenty minutes later — ^that 
curtain with its pretty chocolate-box picture of fountains 
and naked nymphs — ^there again we mark a pair of aproned 
legs scuttling away into the wings. Pathetic pretence at art. 

The boys may safely be left to body forth the fancies of 
Shakespeare without any but the most simple appUances. 
One of the Littlemen in shorts and a jersey showed a charm- 
ing appreciation of Titania — ^always an unsatisfactory part 
when seen on the stage. By the very enchantment of his 
bearing one could see that he pictured for himself the green 
woodland simk in the deep blue night, and went not unattended 
by a meiny of his own calling up, a retinue of sprites and fays. 

Many who have forgotten their childhood will be surprised 
to see from the following how completely the Littlemen 
identify themselves with the persons they play. We were 
turning over Arthur Rackham's illustrations to "A Mid- 
summer Night's Dream " and nearly every page called forth 
some arresting comment, such as this from Titania : " 0, 
look at the tiny pages holding up my train " ; or thi^, " 0, 
sir, siurely I shouldn't be wearing a kind of ball-dress in the 
woods " ; or this, with delight from the whole group when 
one of Bottom's fellows was found pictured with a comical 
grimace, " Just look at Billy ! " This interesting trait of 
child psychology (really to imagine oneself living as a character 
seen or heard of in a picture or a story) is the subject of that 
chapter " Its Walls were as of Jasper " in Kenneth Grahame's 
" Dream Days." 

A visitor inquired of me recently, " What do you do with 
a play of Shakespeare?" "Act it," I replied. "What else 


can you do with a play ? " What the old-fashioned pedant 
could do to a play of Shakespeare is too well known to bear 
relation, but, incredible though it may seem, it is still rare 
to find acting the principal means of dealing with plays in 
school. Teachers stiU compel their pupils to examine minutely 
a play they have not even read as a story. Here is a paragraph 
from " Notes on the Teaching of English in the Lower Middles," 
at Rugby, published in 1914 : 

" A reading lesson, when the book is a play, proceeds as 
follows : the Master reads aloud himself, the boys all follow- 
ing. He reads as dramatically as possible, exaggerating his 
effects, taking ells himself in order to encourage the boys to 
try an inch. WTien he has read twenty or thirty lines the 
work begins. The meaning is examined : dug out of the 
words, torn out of the idioms, enticed out of the allusions. 
Every bush is beaten, and hares that start up, whether his- 
torical, mythological, moral, geographical, political, etymolo- 
gical, architectural, or ecclesiastical, are pursued, and, if 
possible, caught. All this must be done by the Form, and 
the Master should play the part of huntsman while they are 
hounds. . . ." Doubtless, these hounds are bred out of the 
Spartan kind. Alas, poor " Lower Middles." " As soon as 
a scene has been read intensively in this way, the parts are 
assigned to readers, the others shut their books, and it is read 
dramatically with any amount of coaching in emphasis and 
inflexion by the Master. . . . When, in the coxurse of a fortnight 
or ten days, a whole act has been finished, it is read right 
through dramatically." But then, surely, it is too late. As 
well hand over your dog to be hanged, drawn, quartered, tarred 
and feathered, and then whistle him out for a run ! One play 
vivisected in this manner at the school referred to was no other 
than " Twelfth Night." One recalls Toby's " Tut, there's Ufe 
in't, man." And we can fancy the "Lower Middles" over- 
looking the opening line, 

If music be the food of love, play on, 

and chanting in chorus : 

Give me excess of it ; that, surfeiting. 
The appetite may sicken and so die. 



If the meaning has been " enticed " out of the allusion to 
" fell and cruel hounds " which occurs in Orsino's second speech, 
this Master at Rugby knows what he risks as huntsman of such 
fearful wild-fowl. Ecclesiastical hare, forsooth I 

When a teacher says that in his treatment of Shakespeare 
" the parts are assigned and the play read dramatically," 
this generally means no more than the boys reading in turns 
while seated in their desks. I insist that to ignore action is 
to ignore the play. A book in the hand is not a very serious 
impediment to a boy who has the chance to stab some one, 
or to storm a city wall. The writer I have quoted actually 
applies to school lessons what Disraeli said of public dinners, 
" They are meant to be dull." So we must allow that he is 
lot unaware of the boredom necessarily incurred by his strange 
partiality for pursuing the architectural and political hare 
in the study of a Shakespearean comedy. The Play Way 
on the other hand, desires to avoid unnecessary dullness, so 
the playboys are allowed to make their first acquaintance 
of the play in the manner that most appeals to them. Thus 
they do all the necessary work of their own accord. 

Two episodes in class one day were the occasion of great 
merriment. Evidently the mister was slack or overfull of 
self -affairs, for Portia, about to enter with the Prince of Arragon, 
foimd herself unattended. Thereupon, striking a most comical 
attitude to suggest the offended dame, the playboy observed 
in character, " And whereas my train ? " — ^just as a prim lady 
on finding the servants in bed in the morning might ask, " What 
is the meaning of this, pray ? " But the mister got his own 
back before the end of that scene. When Arragon opens the 
silver casket he should start back amazed ; and Portia should 
say, " Too long a pause for that which you find there." The 
mister had looked ahead ; and when the Hd of the chalk-box 
was drawn open there appeared such a startling " portrait 
of a blinking idiot " that Portia's whole retinue burst into 
shouts of laughter. Such episodes do not spoil the comedy 
for the boys, but add to its fun ; and there is no need to dig 
the meaning out of the words, tear it out of the idioms, or 
entice it out of the allusions. Anything not readily intelligible 
is suffered to go by at the first reading, unless the players get 


hung up over a difficulty. In that case the master gives a 
brief explanation, and on they go. 

In support of my contention that the boys do really feel 
the play when they act it in school, it may perhaps be allowable 
to quote the report of an onlooker which appeared a while back 
in a London paper. " Remember how you were taught 
Shakespeare at school, the dreary reading of a dull play, the 
dreary explanations of the meaning of obscure words, the 
lifeless recitation of speeches, and then consider this : ' Well, 
Jones,' said the master, ' you're producer, I'll leave it to you.' 
Then the master retired to the back of the room, while the 
sacred area roimd his desk was invaded by Jones and his cast. 
And then they put their backs into it with a vengeance. They 
read their parts from the book so well that they had to be 
pulled up only occasionally by the master or by the youthful 
Jones. They acted too, and imconunonly well. The great 
scene was the charge into the breach of Harfleur. To my 
astonishment I realized that there was actually going to be 
a fight in the classroom of a school. I saw half a dozen boys 
armed with sticks take up a position behind the master's desk, 
and then I saw Jones mounted on a bench urging his followers 
on to the attack. In a great voice he reminded them of their 
duty, and at the word of command a dozen boys charged the 
little force holding the master's desk. In a moment the class- 
room was filled with the sound of blows, while the master 
looked on smihng. Twice the charge was repeated, and even 
a third time did the enthusiastic Jones cry aloud : 

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, 
Or close the wall up with our English dead I 

But at last the master thought there had been fighting enough. 
* Steady, Jones,' he said. ' You can make the speech, but we 
don't want another charge.' Jones looked round reproachfully." 
It is only to be expected that the boys will do justice to 
noisy heroics. But it is not generally recognized that by 
letting them act the plays from the beginning you make it 
possible for boys under fifteen to appreciate some of the most 
difficult and moving passages of tragedy. To know this as 
a fact surely gives great support to my belief that a true feeling 



jof art values may be expected to arise out of the trial practice of 
the arts. Two instances may be given. 

The fourth form having read most of the Shakespeare plays 
usually done in school, the bold experiment was tried of intro- 
ducing " Hamlet." It is not so bold if you are to treat it as 
archaeology, but as a pkiy for boys of fourteen there is a fair 
risk of the motive, the passion of Hamlet, being unappreciated. 
We came to Hamlet's interview with his mother. The four- 
teen-year-old boy who played Hanolet had read over the scene 
beforehand, but there had been no coaching. True, he had 
been with me to see Mr. Poel's production at the Little Theatre, 
but his rendering of the scene was qtiite unlike Mr. Esme 
Percy's fine interpretation. There is no doubt in my own 
mind — ^and this is the remarkable thing — ^that the boy inter- 
preted the words spontaneously. In fact he said afterwards 
that he " made it up as he went along." Hamlet began the 
scene with an air of assumed madness, snapping out the words 
in a high-pitched voice. But with " Come, come, and sit 
you down," his whole bearing changed to suit his altered 
purpose. He became outwardly calm, but spoke in a tense 
voice full of restrained excitement. Just that voice, in fact, 
which so frightened the Queen that she cried out on murder. 
At this point the death of Polonius provided, of course, an 
exciting sensation for the class. But, after that, nothing else 
was thought of but the passion of Hamlet. The boys all 
watching in breathless interest. No one moved in his seat 
It is a pity that the boy playing the Queen became uncon- 
sciously an onlooker also, and simply walked through his part. 
A change from pathos in " This was your husband," to contempt 
in " This is your husband " — ^no easy thing for a boy to express 
— ^was very effective, and the tone in " Ha ! have you eyes ? " 
rose to a kind of shriek, which seemed to make clear once and 
for all that the madness of Hamlet was neither real madness 
nor assumed, but hysteria. Just before the Ghost appeared 
Hamlet was openly ranting, shouting and throwing his arms 
about. But now he fell suddenly to his knees, bent low his 
head and prayed in a hushed voice : 

Save me and hover o'er me with your wings, 
You heavenly guards 1 


And when he crouched right low upon the ground, and moaned 
appealingly, " Do not look upon me," I really almost wished 
Polonius might have come to life to break the tension with 
" Look whether he has not turned colours, and has tears in's 
eyes. — ^Pray you no more." 
Yet when the Queen said, 

O, Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain ! 

he had spied enough of Hamlet's next attitude not to speak 
sympathetically ; but assiuned again his high-pitched tone of 
madness, and rapped out his lines as before. A school edition has 
to cut most of what remains of this scene. But the concluding 
words appealed to me as much as anything. The dead body 
could not be dragged along the floor, but though Polonius 
arose and walked out by Hamlet's side no one laughed. And 
Hamlet, all his excitement gone, piped in a high, mad, jaunty 
voice, " Good-night, mother." It was diabolical. 

The other boys remained sitting and no one spoke a word. 
The atmosphere showed that no comment was needed, so I 
simply praised it as the finest piece of work I had ever seen 
in the school ; and the class dispersed. 

Another instance of the playboys' appreciation of both 
comedy and tragedy was seen in " Richard II," a play which 
they thoroughly enjoyed in Form Ilia (age 13). A favourite 
scene was the hsts at Coventry, which they played quite half 
a dozen times. The King, surroimded by his court, was seated 
high aloft on a chair perched on top of my desk, and there was 
much heraldic display. The champions had each a squire to 
bear his shield, and a herald with a scroll to read his challenge. 
The mister, acting the part of the Marshal, elaborated the 
business every time, and required more and more performers, 
until at last the master alone remained sitting in the stocks. 
They had much fun out of old York, who was played as a 
fussy old gentleman, and nicknamed " Boots " from his idiotic 
behaviour in the fifth act. The murder of Richard was carried 
out with some vigour. After the King had slain the two 
servants, and Exton was about to run him through, the mister, 
who had consulted Holinshed's account in a note in another 
edition, interrupted to insist that Exton must stand on the 



chair and smash the King's head from above. Richard in his 
turn insisted, for the sake of the climax, on the two servants 
rising to be slain again. The menials rose and dusted themselves. 
Exton blundered again, so Richard, who resolutely refused 
to be dispatched unless the deed were done well, had the 
whole business repeated, servants and all — ^he had now con- 
trived to get in six slaughters for the two of them ! Last of 
all the King died also. 

The triumph came at the very close. While Bolingbroke 
was winding up his affairs, and collecting the heads of traitors, 
the ingenious mister made ready the funeral procession. A 
blackboard easel was brought out, and thereon, to be borne 
in by four stalwarts shoulder-high, was laid the body of King 
Richard. It was supremely ridiculous, because the bearers 
were of different heights, and the body much in peril of rolling 
off. But I called a hush, and we all proceeded to play the 
finale seriously. Exton and Bolingbroke spoke with feeling, 
and the rest were now perfectly solemn. On the words, 

March sadly after ; grace my mournings here, 
In weeping after this untimely bier, 

the bearers elaborately turned about, and the coffin was borne 
away foot foremost. Bolingbroke stepped down from the 
dais sceptre in hand, and the lords attendant followed in pairs, 
each with his bare sword resting on his arm. Poor Exton 
shuffled hopelessly on behind. The door was opened, and 
very slowly and solemnly the procession of twenty passed out 
of the room. I was left alone with a visitor. We were both 
absurdly impressed. Without scenery, lighting, costume, music 
or any other aid but the thoughts which are able to piece out 
all imperfections, and even to deck the obsequies of a kiag, 
these playboys out of the spontaneity of their hearts had staged 
us a tragedy. 

A moment later in the passage the dead King came to the 
ground with a flop, and as the easel was replaced in the corner 
they all rushed in to know what I thought of it. " Stop this 
noise," said the mister. " Shut, the door, and sit down at 

Stage conditions must of course be studied in connexiba 


■with the acting of a play. When the third form say, begins 
to act "The Merchant of Venice," their attention is called 
to an imaginary line drawn across the floor-space they are 
using. This line divides the two-thirds in front from the third 
at the back. It soon wants a name, so you call it the " curtain 
or " traverse." Some boy is sure to protest that the curtain 
ought to be in the very front. He can then be told, not only 
that the stage for which Shakespeare wrote was different from 
those we have now, but also that this fact made a great differ- 
ence to the plays themselves, as he shall see. Many questions 
arise at once, but we imdertake that such of them as the 
performance does not answer for itself shall be dealt with at 
the end of the lesson. All the rules of the game are at first 
known only to the master. If he insists on the actors keeping 
in front of the traverse line throughout the first scene, their 
interest is at once aroused. Whenever I have opened the 
performance in this way — ^and we always read " The Merchant " 
in nib — several boys not acting at the moment have, by 
turning over to the next scene, discovered why the imaginary 
curtain was kept shut. Once a boy called out excitedly, " O, 
I see, Portia's house is hidden behind there." " There " was, 
of course, nothing more substantial than the imaginary curtain. 
Then while Bassanio is telling Antonio, 

In Belmont is a lady richly left, 

the mister quietly ushers his Portia and Nerissa into a corner at 
the back, whence they are ready to walk on as soon as the first 
scene is ended. The class easily imderstands that no curtain 
comes down at the end of Scene I. Instead, the traverse 
is now declared open, and the master explains that the 
Street in Venice disappears and the whole stage becomes 
Belmont. The boys are not quite ready for this. Some have 
convinced their imaginations that this is a street. They have 
fancied houses, and the canal, and the masts of shipping in 
the distance. If any teacher doubt this — and many teachers 
behave as though they doubted all the powers of their pupils 
— ^let him get this opening scene played thus by a group of boys, 
and then allow them to talk about it. After they have been 
at pains to construct such a complete setting it appears rather 



cool to clear this picture all away upon the opening of an 
imaginary curtain behind ; and start all over again, this time 
to picture the interior of a palace. For a moment it seems as 
though they might dispute the plausibility of the change 
demanded. For, strange to relate, the playboys are permitted 
to have a say in the conduct of a lesson which, after all, is 
being given solely for their benefit. It seems as if they might 
be indisposed to grant what Coleridge calls " that willing 
suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes 
poetic faith." So the master seeks to justify the dramatist 
by asking the boys whence they obtained their picture of the 
first scene. They admit that Antonio and his friends suggested 
it in what they said, and one boy actually gives Salarino all 
the credit for the ships ; which, if you know the play well, 
you will easily understand. It is now a simple matter to suggest 
that the gentlemen have taken away with them the street- 
stuff they had brought. They think. One presently asks : 
" Is the scenery mixed up with the actors ? " And another, 
not necessarily the master, replies : " No, the scenery is given 
in the lines." 

On the opening of the curtain, Portia and Nerissa are ex- 
pected in their turn to suggest another setting. But they 
do not seem to give any very definite help ; and the onlookers 
are clearly more sparing of their fancy over the second scene, 
and do not localize it at all definitely. Some are for a boudoir, 
some for a garden. Discussion springs up again. At such 
an early occasion in the play discussion should not be too 
ruthlessly checked. The playboys have still to master the 
conventions. One protests that neither Portia nor Nerissa 
has told us " where they are.' The master asks, " Where 
do you think they are ? " " At Belmont," comes the reply 
in chorus. That is all we know, and all we need to know. 

Already, by the conclusion of the second scene, the master's 
aid in this matter of " scenery " is no longer required. The 
playboys have grasped the first rules of the game. While the 
mister goes through the motions of closing the traverse — ^you 
must " do it in action " lest the imaginary fittings be forgotten 
and the play marred — ^Bassanio walks on to the front stage in 
company with Shylock. At once the onlookers, already more 


than audience now, and almost equivalent to a chorus, smile 
knowingly to themselves as they recognize that Bassanio is 
bringing back the street, with the rigging of ships in the back- 
ground. If he were not, you may be sure that Shakespeare 
would have made clear the change of locality. And the play 
boys are now ready to give careful heed to learn whether 
Shylock will lend Bassanio the " three thousand ducats " of 
which he keeps muttering to himself. For however familiar 
the story may be to some of us it is as well to remember that 
children are not bom knowing the plot of " The Merchant 
of Venice." 

But the scene-openings of this play are not by any means 
the easiest to cope with. I have just shown one difficulty 
at the very start : the audience having been prepared already 
for the appearance of Portia at Belmont, no more in the way 
of explanation is deemed necessary by the dramatist when 
she is shown. His concern now is to get the matter of the 
caskets introduced as soon as possible ; which he does with 
no little skill. But "The Merchant of Venice" does furnish 
an excellent example of the alternation of scenes on the Eliza- 
bethan stage. Throughout the first three acts the scenes are 
laid in Belmont or in a Venetian street. Venice is always on 
the front stage ; Belmont always on the back. This makes 
your exposition of the elementary principles of Elizabethan 
stage-craft quite a simple undertaking. A grasp of the " alter- 
nation theory " may not at first sight appear to have any 
particular value. But in addition to making the story clear, 
it directs the interest of the boys to the constructive side of 
the artist's work. It is also an extremely useful asset in their 
own playmaking. 

Here, then, are matters worthy of consideration when you 
take up the reading of a Shakespearean play in the classroom. 
The pursuit of hares, " whether historical, mythological, moral, 
geographical, political, etymological, architectiiral, or ecclesi- 
astical," not only bores the class, but distracts their attention 
from the very subject they are called upon to study. And 
the pedant alone knows how difficult it is to hold the attention 
of the boys by the system of teaching which prevails every- 
where at the present time. The Play Way is not a collection 



of schemes for keeping small boys entertained during school- 
hours, without reference to the subject-matter of their lessons. 
On the contrary, it is the main principle of the Play Way that 
you shall get right to the heart of the matter you have in hand 
and then do actively wfiai your interest bids, as the necessity 
of the case demands. If you have a play in hand, and get to 
the heart of the matter, you "will find that your interest bids 
you act it. If you do not find this, you are not yet at the heart 
of the play. And the necessity of the case requires that you 
get some knowledge of the conditions in relation to which this 
particular play was wrought actable. 

Accordingly the play-method allows the master or the boys 
to hold up the dramatic narration of the story from time to 
time. But these interruptions only occur often at the beginning 
and become less and less frequent as the boys' grasp of the 
Elizabethan stage convention makes comment more rarely 
necessary. When a proffered remark is obviously on some 
point now quite familiar to the whole class it may with more 
gain than damage be suppressed. The notable distinction 
between the two methods is this. The hunting method, as 
approved and practised at Rugby and most other schools, 
is off the point at every interruption. The plan upon which 
the whole himting method is founded — ^that of taking a slice 
of thirty lines or so and proceeding to mince it into an un- 
recognizable slush — ^is in itself enough to kill the play. But 
the interruptions made by the playboys serve only, by rais- 
ing the discussion of essential questions, to enhance the value 
of the whole study. 

In many of the plays the scene-openings are not only very 
carefully localized, but they serve also to make the author's 
purpose clear by explaining the plot and characters, precisely 
at that point where exposition is necessary. Look at Act I 
of " Twelfth Night." * You must, of course, always ignore the 
printed stage directions, which, with a few exceptions, do not 
appear in the First Folio. Orsino partly introduces himself, 
and he and Valentine clear the way for Olivia. But the second 
scene introduces Viola. So, to save confusion, the place, the 

* It is hoped that the reader will take the trouble to look up the 
few simple references required, and so obviate much lengthy quotation. 


persons, the recent events, present circumstances, and future 
possibilities are all dealt with in the utmost precision. 

Viola : What country, friends, is this ? 
Captain : This is Ulyria, lady. 

Then they discuss her brother, and the shipwreck, the 
captain, the duke, Olivia again, and Viola's own position and 
prospects. Which being done they go off. They only came 
on to do that. The third scene opens with the remarks of a 
stout and jovial person, who is addressed as Sir Toby, referring 
to his niece, who is lamenting the death of her brother. This 
is the third time we have heard about the lamented brother, 
so there can be no doubt that the niece in question is no other 
than that same Lady Olivia, whom we are by now quite 
anxious to look upon. She is discussed again in the fourth 
scene, and only enters in the midst of scene five. In the mean- 
time, since the play opened, no fewer than ten persons have 
become known to us ; and the plot is well afoot. We are 
all in a very good humour, and would not even notice the 
escape of an astrological hare when Toby says, " Were we not 
bom imder Taiirus ? " 

We have not fared ill, then, with our imaginary line called 
a traverse, and our scene-openings. If " Shakespeare wanted 
arte " it was doubtless the kind of art typified by rare old 
Ben himself, who was so stuffed up with much Greek and 
more Latin that he applied the critical standard of one age to 
the creative production of a totally different one, as though 
the influence of intervening time (during which, as a matter 
of fact, the drama of his day actually took its rise) were of small 
account, and the whole new character of contemporary hfe 
and art, including his own, of no account at all. The critical 
standpoint of such craftsmen as Jonson, who himself confessed 
that he wrote his poetry first as prose and then translated it 
into metre, is not unknown among us at the present day. Any 
work which shows abounding vigour and joy is, without 
respect to its intrinsic worth, held undisciplined by those whose 
own uninspired productions reveal their laboured mechanism 
at every joint. Am I not right in saying that Shakespeare 
is indulgently regarded as a rare genius who was able to rely 



with glorious abandon upon the first fine careless rapture ? 
Yet did he not actually copy out his lines with such a finished 
care that his editors received of him scarce a blot in his papers ? 
At all events, the craftsman who had that skill, in scene- 
openings alone, which I have been able to illustrate, will serve 
well enough as a master for my playboys. But the most 
remarkable fact about Shakespeare's skill in stage-craft is the 
way he tells his actors at every important moment exactly 
what he wants them to do. Could anything be at once so 
interesting for the boy-players to notice and so helpful to them 
in their acting of the plays ? The mister in charge has only 
to read the book with care to fiid all the directions Uterally 
waiting for him. 

In Shakespeare we have everything given, as any one may 
find for himself by studying the text with a purpose. Over 
and above the plot and characterization Shakespeare gives us 
poetry that is not mere gush. Lorenzo brings his moonlight 
with him, Macbeth wraps himself in darkness, and Romeo 
points out the dawn. It is the moonlight and darkness they 
want, the dawn he dreads. Who more fitly then may indicate 
their presence ? As a model for playwrights (as opposed to 
play-writers) it is the greatest of Shakespeare's merits that 
his plays seem to have been written after rehearsal. He never 
forgot his stage. You could almost " dress " the whole play 
" Julius Caesar " correctly in the EUzabethan manner out of 
all the hats, cloaks, shoes, daggers, nightcaps, leather aprons, 
kerchiefs, tapers, letters, tools, and musical instruments that are 
mentioned. And as for Caesar, are we not told both of his 
nightgown and of his doublet ? Again, just before the entry of 
the conspirators, Lucius tells Brutus, 

Their hats are pluck'd about their ears. 
And half their faces buried in their cloaks, 
That by no means I may discover them 
By any mark of favour.* 

Our playboys in consequence always enter in the muffled 

* A knowledge of Shakespeare's use of the word favour by the way 
and of many other apparently simple words, such as fancy, for example^ 
is essential to a right understanding of the plays. 


guise of the traditional stage conspirators. But always in the 
representations seen on the modern stage, this secretive company 
strolls on bareheaded. And of course every man of them wears 
a toga ! 

The very stage-directions and " business " ol Shakespeare's 
plays can be found in the text, to say nothing of what we now 
call the "programme." The nuster has only to keep alert 
and he will find (quite apart from the modem editor's stage- 
directions, which we always ignore) that the knockings, the 
drawing of the curtain, the sewing of banquets and the taking 
up of bodies are all clearly indicated. At the very first knock 
on the door Macbeth says, "Whence is that knocking? " 
Presently Lady Macbeth says, " I hear a knocking at the 
south entry," and again, " Hark, more knocking." The porter 
comes in with " Here's a knocking, indeed ! " and throughout 
the scene with his " Knock, knock, knock " he makes it quite 
plain that the knocking must continue. 

Both Lorenzo and Jessica mention, on the occasion of 
her flight, that she is dressed in boy's clothes. The curtain 
which screens Portia's caskets is scarcely ever drawn apart or 
together without some one saying, " Draw the curtain." 

And for the current aid of the actors themselves, " Here," 
" Thus," " Yonder " are frequent hints. Characters are often 
named as they enter, or they announce themselves. This is 
so usual that we might almost dispense with " Enter So-and- 
so." The custom reminds one of the Mummer's Play& 
where the persons nearly always announce themselves with,^ 
" In comes I King George " or " In comes I the Fool." The 
famiUar observation of the clown in the Harlequinade, " Here 
we are again ! " is in the direct tradition. Of course the purpose 
is to make everything quite plain to the audience, but there 
is more in it than that, I am convinced. A study of these 
old stage conventions would make an excellent subject for a 

It is in fact difficult for the boys to miss an intended action, 
for curtsies, handskakings, pointings, and the smallest move- 
ments and gestures of all kinds are actually described in the 
doing. A few illustrations will make the point quite clear : 
"Sit, Jessica," "Here, catch this casket," "Why dost thou 



whet thy knife ? " " Eat, look you, this leek," " Nay, never 
shake thy gory locks at me," " Look where it comes again," 
"There's blood upon thy face," "Who did strike out the 
light ? " " This is the door— I'll make so bold to call," " Here 
is the scroll of every man's name," " Here come two noble 
beasts, in a man and a lion," " Well moused, Uon ! " " This 
thorn-bush my thorn-bush, this dog my dog," " My tables — 
it is meet I set it down," " Leave thy damnable faces and begin," 
*' Look here upon this picture and on this," " Take up the 
bodies," " Go, bid the soldiers shoot." 

The words themselves tell the actor what to do, and what 
properties wiU be required. In fact Shakespeare is so much 
at ease in instructing his players in the very text of their 
speeches that he even puts stage-directions into the body of 
his songs ! The reader will possibly think that such a state- 
ment is pushing the case to a ridiculous extreme. But most 
■convincing instances of these stage-directions in the songs 
are easily given. Ariel's song, " Come unto these yellow sands," 
is from start to finish nothing but a little pageant-mister's 
direction to his troupe of fairy dancers.* They are all invisible 
to Ferdinand, of course, but they should appear upon the stage 
nevertheless, and do as Ariel bids. They foot it featly here 
and there, and cry their nursery rhyme at one another 
across the stage. Instead of saying " Chorus " the mister says, 
^' Sweet sprites the bmi;hen bear." Then the group which is 
footing it featly " here " cries " Hark, hark ! " and the group 
which is footing it featly " there " answers " Bowgh-wowgh ! " 
Then the fairy mister suddenly stops his nimble prancing and 
•says , 

Hark, bark ! I hear 
The stTain of strutting chanticlere. 

And then some little fellow behind cries " Cock-a-diddle-dowe ! " 
The song is a miniature Littleman play. 

He who has not tried putting himself and his players entirely 
into Shakespeare's hands, and playing all his games exactly 
as he directs they should be played, has missed half the fun so 
generously given by this amazing craftsman. 

* Cf. Perse Flaybook, No. 3, Introduction. 


Ferdinand now speaks. But he has hardly uttered ten 
lines before Ariel begins again his enchantments. He sings 
his song about the underwater world, and then gives his chorus 
off stage the cue when to join in with their " burthen." He 

Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell, 

and the chorus chimes its " Ding-dong." Then he repeats his 
chanticlere phrase, " Hark, now I hear them," and the whole 
choir breaks into a round of " Ding-dong, bell." 

If the music were treated in a true Elizabethan manner, 
and the dancing and play-business carried out as Shakespeare 
most clearly directs, these two little songs would make in 
themselves a most enchanting performance. All the business 
is actually given in the words of the song ; but as Ferdinand 
truly says, " This is no mortal business." Nowadays musicians 
don't care, producers don't understand, and — ^most unkindest 
cut of all — ^boys don't have the run of the stage. When children 
appear at all in modem Shakespeare productions the most 
you will see is a group of badly drilled amateur girls jumping 
about in tennis shoes. 

But my illustrations of stage-directions in the songs are 
not confined to those two songs ia " The Tempest." A boy 
sings a song in " The Merchant of Venice " while Bassanio is 
making his speech before the caskets. It is a good plan to 
have the song going on while Bassanio is speaking, in order 
to drown his stodgy moralizings. At the close of his song the 
boy calls for the chorus, just as Ariel did. It must have been 
a boy. It was probably Ariel himself. He says : 

Let us all ring fancy's knell, 
I'll begin it, — ^Ding-dong, bell. 

And the chorus, either on or oft the stage, takes up the cue, 
and sings " Ding-dong, bell." 

Remember that all the ladies-in-waiting and Portia herself 
were played by boys. Is it too much to suppose that it was 
the same group of boys as played with Ariel, and that they 
may even have sung the same round for this "Ding-dong, 
bell," as they did in the character of sea-nymphs ? 

o 203 


"I'll begin it." Could you think of any statement so 
obviously a conductor's direction. It is equivalent to " Now, 
all together." Yet the one is lyric utterance here and the 
other is not. 

In " A Midsummer Night's Dream " Oberon and Puck 
spend most of their time in painting scenes, giving directions 
to the actors, or explaining the play to the audience. Titania 
need never be anxious whether her band of little fairy people 
has been sufficiently rehearsed, because she tells them what 
to do at every turn, " Fairies, skip hence," " Fairies, away." 
" Come now, a roimdel and a fairy song," " Come, wait upon 
him ; lead him to my bower," " Fairies, begone, and be all ways 
away." And when she goes to sleep they direct their own 
play, as did Ariel and his troupe, in the words of their fairy 
song. At the end of the play all the little people come in with 
Oberon and Titania, and " now are frolic." After what has 
been shown you will not be sm:prised to find that Oberon and 
Titania in their singing give most explicit directions to their 
meiny of Littlemen. 

Through this house give glimmerlDg light. 

By the dead and drowsy Are : 

Every elf and fairy sprite 

Hop as light as bird from brier : 

And this ditty after me, 

Sing and dance it trippingly. 

Here, then, once again, the cue for the chorus is given by the 
chief singer. 

The modem editor's final stage-direction, " Eiseunt Ob., Tit., 
and Train," is not only hideous, but ludicrously out of place, 
following, as it does, on the heels of Oberon's. 

Trip away. 
Make no stay. 
Meet me all by break of day. 

Such mastery of a craft is wonderful. But it has escaped the 
knowledge of the general, because it is " set down with as 
much modesty as cimning." 

The fact that Shakespeare puts into Hamlet's few words 

' Antony : Yon all do know this mantle" 

Cf p. -ra 

' MaruUus : And do you now put un your best attire" 

[See fout-uote uii 

p. v.n 


of advice to the players such explicit warnings against stage- 
mannerisms and faults of overacting, tells the actors not to 
mouth his words, not to saw the air with their hands, not to 
tear a passion to tatters ; and the fools not to prolong the 
patter of their interludes and so spoil the continuity of the 
play — all this put in so few words shows that the dramatist 
had very decided opinions upon what should and what should 
not be done in the acting of his plays. Is it not more than 
likely, then, that all this meticulous description of actions 
by the characters is intentionally put into their lines in order 
to make sure they do them ? Yet actors of to-day are very 
casual about this. They do not observe with any artistic 
precision the law laid down by Shakespeare in the words of 
Hamlet, " Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." 
Professional actors and producers may prefer to ignore this 
method of direction so systematically observed by Shakespeare 
throughout the plays. But to the boys, whether in the class- 
room or on the stage it is a very godsend. The mister knows 
that he must make ready certain little scrolls of paper when 
he sees " I will bestow these papers," and Lucius knows that 
he must enter with one in his hand, because he presently has 
to say, " I found this paper." The modem editor adds the 
gratuitous stage-direction, " CHves a paper." Cassius knows 
when to draw Brutus aside and whisper with hin, because 
he himself says the cue, " Shall I entreat a word ? " The 
rest are also made to tell themselves w^iat to do, " Here, as I 
point my sword, the sun arises," and so on. The mister, ever 
watchful for what is coming, is told when to strike his beU by 
" Peace, coimt the clock," and he is told how often to strike 
it, " The clock hath stricken three." In " Macbeth " also we 
find, " Go, bid thy mistress . . . strike upon the bell," and the 
cue a while later, " The bell invites me." "When " the games 
are done and Caesar is returning " Brutus describes to Cassius 
the appearance of the whole company so clearly that not a man 
of them but must know how to look. 

The angry spot doth glow on Csesar's brow, 
And aU the rest look like a chidden train : 
Calphumia's cheek is pale ; and Cicero 
Looks with such ferret and such fiery eyea 



As we have seen him in the Capitol, 

Being crossed in conference by some senators. 

If still further illustration of this characteristic habit in Shake- 
speare's workmanship be deemed necessary the reader is referred 
to Act III, Scene 1, of " Juhus Caesar." There is hardly a 
gesture or a movement in that important scene but is clearly 
directed in the text : " Look how he makes to Caesar," " Look, 
he smiles, and Caesar doth not change," 

Trebonius knows his time ; for, look you, Brutus, 
He draws Mark Antony out of the way, 

" I kiss thy hand," " As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall," 
" Speak hands for me," " Stoop, Romans, stoop, and let us 
bathe our hands in Caesar's blood," " Thus, Brutus, did my 
master bid me kneel " — ^and so throughout. 

The Elizabethans loved fights and shows and all kinds 
of spectacular effects in their plays. The theatre supplied 
them with all the sensations which in modem days we may 
obtain from boxing, fencing, and wrestling matches, from 
conjuring shows, the melodrama, the cinema, and the variety 
entertaiimients. So Shakespeare filled his plays with sen- 
sations. There is always much display of clothes, much 
pageantry, music, the braying of trumpets and the letting off 
of firearms. " Macbeth " gives us witches, a ghost, apparitions, 
a sleep-walker, a forest on the move, a great battle, several 
murders and a head brought in on a pole. " Hamlet," with 
the ghost, the stage-play, the madness of Opheha, the killing 
of Folonius, the crowd that hails Laertes king, the fight in the 
grave, and all the poisonings and stabbings at the end, contains 
more sensational elements than any melodrama you can see 
to-day. It is not for nothiug that the very last words of this 
play are, " Go, bid the soldiers shoot." 

All such things are the very stuff that boys delight in, so 
that if plays had not been available containing so much show 
and noise and sensation it would have been necessary to invent 
them. And whether Shakespeare put in such things solely 
to cater for the tastes of his hearers or not, he most certainly 


gave the sensational element a status in drama. And so the 
boys can at the same time revel in din and clash and horrors, 
and leam to appreciate literature in its highest form. 

Sir Walter Raleigh says:* "The citizens delighted in 
exhibitions of juggling, tumbling, fencing and wrestling ; and 
these also were provided by the drama. Shakespeare is profuse 
in his concessions to the athletic interest. The wrestling 
match in ' As You Like It,' the rapier duels in ' Romeo and 
Juliet ' and in ' Hamlet,' the broadsword fight in ' Macbeth,' 
— ^these were real displays of skill by practised combatants. 
The whole First Act of ' Coriolanus ' is so full of alarums and 
excursions and hand-to-hand fighting with hard blows given 
and taken, that it is tedious to Shakespeare's modem admirers, 
but it gave keen pleasure to the patrons of the Globe. ' The 
Comedy of Errors ' is noisy with beatings and the outcries 
of the victims. All these things, though it discolour the 
complexion of his greatness to acknowledge it,| were imposed 
upon Shakespeare by the tastes and habits of his patrons and 
by the fashions of the primitive theatre. It was on this robust 
stock that his towering thought and his delicate fancy were 
grafted." And again, J 

" In nothing is Shakespeare's greatness more apparent 
than in his concessions to the requirements of the Elizabethan 
theatre, concessions made sparingly and with an ill grace by 
some of his contemporaries, by him offered with both hands, 
yet transmuted in the giving, so that what might have been 
a mere connivance in baseness becomes a miracle of expressive 
art. The audience asked for bloodshed, and he gave them 
' Hamlet.' They asked for foolery, and he gave them ' King 
Lear.' " 

There is another quality about the work of Shakespeare 
which stands out so prominently that the boys can easily 
learn to appreciate it in their acting, and to try and imitate 
it in their own playmaking. That is the quality of being 
distinct and broad in treatment. Much of Shakespeare's 

* " Shakespeare " (" English Men of Letters "), p. 102. 
t Sir Walter Raleigh's unfortunate lapse as a critic in this phrase 
is happily made good in the passage next quoted. 

t " Shakespeare " (" English Men of Letters "), p. 27. 



greatness rests in this. He was not a&aid of exaggeration. 
Look at Falstaff. Was ever man so fat ? And, given such 
an apparently obvious topic for jest as a very fat man, were 
there ever so many jokes made on the same subject ? Has 
any one ever counted the number of jokes made by Falstaff 
and others at the expense of his waist-line ? There must be 
himdreds. Yet Shakespeare was quite right ; though no 
modem writer would dare to do a thing like that. We are 
all too fearful. We never let ourselves go. Again, look at 
Pistol's swaggering, and Bardolph's red nose. And according 
to our puny modem standpoint Bottom's blunders in speaking 
would be an impermissible exaggeration. " The eye of man 
hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen ; man's hand is 
not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report 
what my dream was." Why, it is absurdly overdone, is it 
not ? Mistress Quickly and Dogberry and Slender and many 
others make the same improbable blunders. For even if we 
are to believe that such mistakes as " I am freely dissolved 
and dissolutely " were not improbable in Shakespeare's time, 
the fact is that they are quite unconvincing to-day. And yet 
we laugh still, and would not spare one of them. In fact, it 
is well worth while to investigate those we do not immediately 
see the point of, such as Mistress Quickly's " Good people, 
bring a rescue or two," and " O thou honeysuckle villain 1 
WUt thou kill God's oflBcers and the king's ? O thou honey- 
seed rogue ! Thou art a honey-seed." The good dame means 
" homicide." This " broad " comedy is the very essence of 
boy-stuff, and the playboys delight in it. The ridiculous 
business between Lancelot Gobbo and his father, in the matter 
of the beard which Lancelot grew on the back of his head, is 
one of the favourite features of this popular fellow. And 
the more outrageous you can make the antics of Pyramus and 
the Lion and the Moon the better pleased they all are. We 
have also found our audiences delighted with our broad treat- 
ment of what is manifestly broad comedy. 

The question of why Shakespeare's exaggerations and 
burlesques are recognized by all as fitting and genuinely comic, 
while the tamer and more modest foolery of such turns as 
" Charley's Aunt " and the red-nosed, lunbrella-wagging tramps 


of the modem variety stage are often found silly, and never 
for long satisfying, cannot be examined here. There is a very 
demonstrable reason, but the discussion would not be in place. 
Suffice it for the present to say that Shakespeare for all his 
tomfoolery somehow always makes us feel that his creations 
are true to life ; but the aim of modem farce is to amuse by 
strangeness, and by the sudden introduction of the unexpected. 

But it would be leaving the case for broad, bold treatment, 
as instanced by Shakespeare, in a very one-sided position if 
we did not show that his touch is just as decided, and his taste 
just as courageous in the serious side of his work. Laertes is 
hardly less of a swashbuckler than Pistol, only we are not 
meant to laugh at him, and so we do not find him funny. The 
ravings of Lear are immoderate. He out-Herods Herod at 
times. Othello and even Hamlet rant. And Shakespeare 
himself pokes fim at the bloodthirsty character of Hotspur, 
in the words he gives to Prince Hal. But there is a touch of 
subtlety in all this character-drawing which makes every one of 
these persons a human being for us, even while we notice the 
emphasis with which one side of their nature is brought out. 
Consider the best criticisms one reads of the characters of lago, 
Goneril, Regan. The writers, although they speak of nothing 
but the villainy or cruelty of these people, never speak of them 
except as people, Goneril and Regan may be unnatural 
daughters, but daughters they are, and natural. 

This bold, definite touch is to be seen in every side of 
Shakespeare's work, and I have made a special point of it here 
because it is this quality in the workmanship and the whole 
art of the plays which makes it at once so easy for the boys 
to " see something in them " from the first, so easy for boys 
to act them, and which makes the study of Shakespeare so 
helpful to their own playmaking. 

There is always " something to get hold of " in Shakespeare. 
Whatever subject he took for a plot he always made of it a 
story you could never forget. The history we know best is 
the history we learn from Shakespeare. Those characters he 
means to draw he draws so distinctly that you cannot but 
feel they are as actual as any one you ever met in real life. 
Who will believe me if I say that Falstaft never lived, and that 



Shylock is only " made up " ? And when Shakespeare does 
not mean to draw a character as a real live person he is generally 
careful not to do so, and thus avoids the blurred impression 
we should get from a half-delineated figure. Demetrius, 
Lysander, Hippolyta, Salanio, Hamlet's uncle, and others 
merely fill parts in a plot. That is all they were meant to do. 
But so creative is his touch that sometimes even minor characters 
insist on coming to life and taking affairs into their own hands. 
There are many instances of this, such as Bamardine in " Measure 
for Measure " as instanced by Sir Walter Raleigh. But Mercutio 
is another. He becomes so obtrusive that Shakespeare has to 
kill him to save the play. He does not kill Sir Toby, and so 
this genial old scoundrel takes the direction of matters into 
his own hands and pushes Orsino and Olivia into the back- 
ground. Even Falstaff was not originally intended to bulk 
so large throughout the epic of Harry. " He had been brought 
in as an amusement, and had rapidly established himself as 
the chief person of the play." 

If Shakespeare's workmanship could produce figures so 
life-like as to confound their maker it is easily understood 
how his most unlearned readers may at once be captivated. 
You cannot confuse one play of Shakespeare with another 
play, or get " mixed up " between the persons, because the 
plays and the persons are real and distinguishable. They are 
as distinctly recognizable as one's brothers and sisters and 

Even in the matter of the merest accessories the same 
distinctive touch is seen. Most of the plays require one or 
more properties which appear in their own place and nowhere 
else. There are the caskets in " The Merchant of Venice," the 
skull in " Hamlet," the bear in " The Winter's Tale," the caul- 
dron in " Macbeth," the hot irons in " King John," the mirror 
in " Richard H," the deer in " As you Like It," the handker- 
chief in " Othello," the worm in " Antony and Cleopatra," the 
ass-head in " A Midsummer Night's Dream," and the leek in 
" Henry V." 

Literary critics are apt to overlook the importance of these 
concrete things. And many teachers of Shakespeare, not 
understanding the power of association that is in them, pay 


them no attention at all. But the property-master and his 
goods contribute very much to the reality of a play. When 
the playboys have in their tiring-house a cauldron, three caskets, 
a hand-mirror, a skull, a lanthom, a bunch of thom-t-wigs, and 
the masks of an ass, a lion, a dog, and a bear, they look upon 
each as a kind of emblem or concrete embodiment of one most 
distinct play. 

The works of Shakespeare represent so many sides of life 
and study that it is possible for a man totally to ignore many 
elements and yet own a rich possession in the rest. It is possible 
to devote many busy and well-spent years solely in studying 
Shakespeare's use of language or to the impersonation of his 
characters upon the boards, or to the critical elucidation of the 
text. Some of the truest lovers of Shakespeare are engaged 
daily with ropes, hammers, lamps, and such things behind 
the scenes. A student of Shakespeare, sick of much study 
in learned books, may, even in this material and unimaginative 
age, find a full refreshment by spending an evening in a tavern 
at Oxford or Stratford-on-Avon with the stage-hands of the 
Benson Company. Those whose daily occupation is the traffic 
of the stage, even if they be simple unlettered men, are often 
nearer to the spirit of Shakespeare than the most learned 
among scholars. 

No man can come to the end of all there is to learn and 
to feel about Shakespeare. And, in common with the rest 
of mankind, boys have their due part in him. What is thii 
part ? Under right guidance, I think a company of boys might 
well find that Shakespeare belongs more to them than to some 
of their learned elders. Their romantic, adventurous tastes 
bring them nearer to the life of Shakespeare's own day than 
has been possible for most adults during the past three himdred 
years of puritan dominion. And Shakespeare himself knew all 
about boys. 

You may be surprised to see how few boys are represented 
among the crowd of Shakespeare's characters. They are 
generally children, and a boy is not by any means the 
same thing as a child. Mamillius in " The Winter's Tale " 
and Falstaft's page (who lives on as the boy in " Henry V") 
are real boys. The princes in " Richard III " and Arthur 



in " King John " are less convincing. Lucius in " Julius 
Caesar" serves to bring out the gentleness of Brutus, but has 
no separate being. Looked at beside that shrewd and knavish 
sprite called Robin Goodfellow these lads show up for what they 
are, figures for pathos. Their main function is to excite our 
pity. Macduff's little son is similariy placed. He does show 
some touches of nature in his prattling ; but he is not meant 
to live, he is meant to die. These gentle babes are after all 
but food for slaughter, and the reader will not be surprised 
to learn that all the sympathy of our playboys is with those 
who murder them. They much enjoy playing the scene in 
which Lady Macduff and her son are slain, but they refer to 
it with rude relish as "the fried-egg scene." This is a nick- 
name suggested to a boyish fancy by the lines, 

Son. Thou liest, thou shag-hair'd villain. 
Murderer. What, you egg ? 

Young fry of treachery ! [Kills him. 

What is the boys' share in Shakespeare's gift to the world ? 
Is it confined to their healthy appreciation of the sensational 
and knockabout elements ? Most teachers have not the wit to 
allow their boys even this small share in the greatest treasury 
of life-lore our nation has produced. But what further can 
we expect schoolboys to understand and appreciate in Shake- 
speare ? Can they have any real feeling for the poetry ? Can 
they appreciate the subtleties of plot-development ? Can they 
comprehend the characters ? These are no idle questions, 
nor shall they be idly answered. 

One of the best ways of teaching English to boys (whether 
you mean by that word a knowledge and appreciation of 
literature, or a skill in the use of language ; or even if you 
include as part of this study the abiUty to make literature) 
is to base all their English studies on their acting of the plays 
of Shakespeare. The first acquaintance a boy makes with 
literature, after his simple reading of stories and ballads, should 
be this acting of Shakespeare. And thereafter all you wish to 
teach him in English can be directly or indirectly associated 
with this. 

On what authority can such a recommendation be made? 


Although the methods described in this book are one and all 
the outcome of actual experiments, the reader has only one 
man's word for it that the experiments have been successful. 
It may be thought merely a matter of opinion that Speeches 
and Ilonds and Playtown and Miming and these other devices 
are adapted to the character and preference of boys, and do 
really represent their natural way of leanung. But in advis- 
ing teachers to let their boys act Shakespeare, with full confi- 
dence that they can and will appreciate not only the sporting 
side but also the poetic, the dramatic, and the human aspects 
of the work, we have the support of the highest authority, 
that of Shakespeare himself. 

Though there may be but few real boys drawn among his 
characters there were many real boys among his players. 
Shakespeare had with him just the same sturdy, naughty, 
laughing, loving English boys as you and I have with us 
to-day. They liked the same things, such as fights and din, 
and high adventure, and broad nonsense. Their imaginations 
were as rich in the poetry of life as your boys' are, only Shakes- 
peare knew it and you don't. There was as much noisy chatter 
and heroic make-believe in the tiring-house as there is in the 
schoolroom, but with this difference : that the noise was 
greater, the laughter louder, and the fancy much quickened 
when the master was present. Shakespeare was familiar with 
the same tousled heads, the same grubby paws, the same 
quarrels and appeals, the same cries of " Sir ! " The little 
wretches left their stockings on the floor, and mislaid essential 
properties, and dropped their wigs into the sink, just as they 
do to-day — ^that is, if you give them stockings and wigs and 
a sink, and other essential properties. Can you not see Master 
Shakespeare in the tiring-house ? The boys knew him and 
loved him as all men did. They had no cause to be afraid 
of him, and did not hush their boy-business at his approach. 
They did not think him a tyrant or a bore. They did not 
associate him with stodgy lessons and " swot." This is note- 
worthy, for you must remember that the lads had to learn 
hundreds of his lines by heart and deliver them as he would 
have them delivered, neither drawling them nor mouthing, 
them; but speaking them trippingly on the tongue. And 



there was some very stiff work to be gone through in the way 
of rehearsals. For Shakespeare was in the midst of it all, 
and he would have things right. Yet the boys would do any- 
thing for him. Ben Jonson was not, by many a score, the only 
one who, after his death, could say in candour, " I loved the 
man, and do honour his memory on this side idolatry as much as 

This first of playmasters knew the capacity of his boys. 
While Shakespeare was writing the lines which embodied the 
life of Imogen and Portia he knew that the parts would be 
played by his boys. He had no thought of any one to play them 
but his boys, and often he knew the very boy who would be cast 
for a certain part. It is true that Imogen and Portia and Jessica 
played their most important scenes in the guise of men, and that 
Rosalind and Viola appeared in a male habit throughout most of 
their parts. But Portia the wife of Brutus was also played 
by a boy, and so were Juliet and Lady Macbeth and Ophelia. 
Consider what a faith in — or say rather a knowledge of— 
boys he must have had who could create Cordelia and Desdemona 
to be impersonated by boy-players, Nowadays there is much 
reading of Shakespeare in the study, much regard for the 
plays quite apart £rom their representation on the stage, and 
rightly so. But we may safely challenge any one to produce 
the least tittle of evidence that Shakespeare counted upon this, 
or even thought of his plays except as matter for the " three 
hours' traffic of the stage." He requires the onlooker to 

Eke out our performance with your mind. 

But he never doubts that there will be a performance. 

Are Shakespeare's women dummies ? Is nothing required 

to represent these parts but dressing up and an unbroken 

voice ? Or have we not rather in these creations all the 

characteristics of a world of womankind ? 

The only sign of any dissatisfaction is, just where you 

would expect it, in Cleopatra. She says : 

the quick comedians 
Extemporally -will stage us . . . and I shall see 
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness. 


One of the very few contemporary allusions made by Shake- 
speare is the mention in " Hamlet " of the " aery of children." 
Rosencrantz tells Hamlet that the tragedians of the city, those 
he was wont to take dehght in, are on travel, because they 
do not hold the same estimation as they did, and are not so 
followed. They have not grown rusty, their endeavour keeps 
in the wonted pace, but they have been put out of favour by 
a company of children which has become fashionable. Rosen- 
crantz explains that much of the interest is excited by a 
controversy, and by the introduction of personal abuse into 
the plays. But the quarrel and the exchange of personalities 
among the poets and actors does not concern us here. When 
Hamlet asks, " Do the boys carry it away ? " Rosencrantz 
replies, " Ay, that they do, my lord ; Hercules and his load 
too." Which shows that the success of the boys had even 
troubled the company at the Globe. 

So long as Shakespeare's work is thoroughly studied and 
whole-heartedly played by boy^, not only will the boys them- 
selves profit, but the fine traditions of Elizabethan drama 
will be carried on. " For," as the boy says in " Henry V," 
" there is none to guard it but boys." 

The study of Shakespeare in schools to-day should be not 
only a means of encouraging self-expression but the medium 
of much learning in literature and in life. If it cannot be made 
so, the fault lies not in any want of appreciative power on the 
boys' part but in the ignorance and incompetence of narrow- 
minded teachers. To these, and to many who are not teachers, 
may be commended for reflection Sir Walter Raleigh's deUberate 
statement, "With the disappearance of the boy-players the 
poetic drama died in England, and it has had no second life." 



And then bespake the schoohnaster 

Unto the Lord of Learne said he, 
" I think thou be some stranger bom 

For the Holy Ghost remains -with thee." 

He said, " I am no stranger bom. 

Forsooth, master, I tell it to thee. 
It is a gift of Almighty Gk>d 

Which He hath given unto me." 

" The Lord of Learne " 

Miming, the language of gesture, is as old-established a form 
of expression as any other language, and it can be made of 
much educational value. There must be books on the subject, 
and they should be both learned and entertaining, but we did 
not happen to come across them, and all that is said here springs 
directly from our own original and unaided experiments. 

In miming, the first thing to note is that you have to make 
yourself understood without uttering any words. We have 
used two classes of gesture. We communicate our thought to 
others (i) by the use of those signs, gestures, looks, and actions 
which every one understands ; or (ii) by the use of certain 
conventional signs and gestures previously agreed upon. These 
two means of expression we have always combined, using our 
own conventional signs only where there was no commonly 
accepted way of expressing a thing. 

The first class includes such easily intelligible action as 
extending something towards a person to Offer it, or holding 
out the hand to imply " Give it to me " ; a nod of the head for 
Yes and a shake for No. Eat and drink are easily shown ; and 
most people without using any words can say, " Come here," 


" Go," " Good-bye." Facial expression alone can easily put 
a simple query, " Is it ? " " Does he ? " " May I ? " " Shall 
we ? " " Who ? " " Why ? " And in conjunction with a shrug 
of the shoulders (and a context) facial expression can indicate 
more particular inquiry such as, "What am I to do with this ? " 
"Where shall I put it?" "What shall we do now?" A 
look and a simple movement are all that is needed to say " Get 
out of my chair," " Put that back where you took it from," or 
" Dare you push him in ? " 

Momentary hesitation, with a pm-sing of the lips, shows 
Doubt. Perplexity is shown by placing the forefinger on the 
temple and frowning. Recognition of the solution of a difficulty 
is obviously a silent " Ah ! " Those who think they have never 
tried miming will perhaps be surprised to hear that all the 
instances given above and himdreds of similar expressive 
gestures are exchanged daily by all ordinary people — even in 

Even in circumstances where movement is not the usual 
medium of expression, any one can invent it, if necessary, for 
such meanings as " Where shall I hide ? " " Where did I put 
that letter ? " " Good luck, old fellow," " It's getting late," 
— ^the last, of course, by simply looking at one's watch. 

There are many other gestures which those good people we 
call foreigners use to express a world of meaning which could 
scarcely be put into words at all. A Frenchman or an Italian 
can keep up his side of a conversation for a long while merely 
in gesttire. In his gestures he can say, " Ah ! my friend, why 
have you not told me this long ago ? " " True, true, but what is 
to be done ? " or, "' She is a woman, after all." 

If you should take up miming it is weU that you should 
temember it is not a mere matter of descriptive dumb-show. 
Although you have no words, you have the use of all those 
varied expressive movements which went with words. 

Apart from these there are gestures which, although perfectly 
'ntelligible, are never used (by Englishmen at least) when words 
are available, because the gesture, save for emphasis, means 
no more than the word. Such are pointing to one's chest 
to express " I," and to the other person's chest to express 
" you " ; pointing i9 the mouth as a request for food ; going 



through the motion of drinking off a bumper to indicate thirst, 
and drawing the hand across the throat to express either a fear 
of, or a threat of, assassination. Englishmen at home are not 
prone to expressive gesture. An EngUshman feels a fool if 
he makes any hand-movements. But since he has colonized 
half the world without learning any foreign languages he must 
behave differently when away from his friends ! 

If these various kinds of expressive gesture be considered 
it will be seen that, although I have divided the gestures 
used in our mining into two classes only, it is possible to 
make numerous subdivisions. But a twofold division at least 
is essential — ^into signs universal and signs conventional. The 
sign imiversal has been sufficiently described. Let us consider 
the sign conventional. 

When in your miming you wish to signify " day " or " night," 
or " yesterday," " to-day," or " to-morrow " you find yourself 
" stumped " as regards signs imiversal. And if you meet a 
Russian who caimot speak English, you cannot make him 
understand in gesture " I arrived," " He came on horseback," 
" You go by boat," " It is ten miles away," or " That is the 
King." Gesture as universally understood will not convey 
" Where is your mother ? " " liis is my son," " Can you hear 
the Cathedral clock ? " or " Over the hills and far away." 
Without using any words you can express simple ideas such as 
" Come," " Hush ! " " Look " ; and you can ask for things, 
such as a knife, a fork, or a spoon. But you cannot express 
equally simple ideas, such as " Begin," " Stop," " Hurry up," 
" More slowly," " Wait for me," " Look out 1 " or " Give me 
a bed." 

The Play Way is happy to have realized from the beginning 
that a necessary thing which does not exist can be invented. 
But this fact is proverbial. Necessity, they say, is the mother 
of invention. It would be a sorry thing if those who invented 
an imaginary stage to act on could not also invent muning 
signs for a few common objects. So we foimd no difficulty 
in devising conventional signs for meanings which did not seem 
to be covered by the universal language of gesture. There is 
no doubt that our signs could easily be improved upon. We 
have endeavoured to make them simple and direct so that they 


might be understood by all. But all innovations grafted on 
to an old stock are subject to grave disabilities. As innovators 
we have recognized this difficulty, and we have coped with it. 
The question of the rights and duties of an innovator will be 
discussed in its place, but some of our new conventional signs 
must now be described. 

The description of gesture is a thankless task, because gesture 
chiefly exists to save description. Words, in any case, are 
cumbrous to explain movement. A simple wave of the hand 
may be talked about for a whole paragraph, and still not be 
made visible. An action may express hope, desire, anger, 
fear, despair. Words also may express hope, desire, anger, fear, 
despair. But the attempt to describe in words the feeling as 
shown in the action is hopeless. 

Novelists say, " ' Damnation ! ' said Travers, with a gesture 
of impatience " ; or, " ' Leave it all to me,' replied Miss Phipson 
airily, indicating with a sweep of the hand that she was perfectly 
capable of managing the whole affair." But they have to leave 
the gesture of impatience and this comprehensive sweep of the 
hand to the imagination of their readers. 

So I will not attempt to give descriptions of those gestures 
which we have used to express feeling of any kind, but will 
confine my detailed illustrations to those signs and symbols 
which we have devised to represent persons and things and 
simple ideas. 

King is indicated by making a plain circle round one's head. 
Preceded or followed by the sign for " woman," this means 
" queen " ; and in conjunction with the sign for " boy " it 
means " prince." 

Day is indicated by making a circle on the right with the 
finger, then carrying the line over in a curve to the left and 
making another circle there. This figure, not unlike a pair of 
spectacles with an exaggerated bridge, is designed to represent 
the sun in the east, going over, and in the west — hence a day. 

Here is indicated by pointing to the ground at one's feet. 

To-day is indicated by " Day-here," or " Day-now." 

Yesterday is indicated as " Day-back-one." " Day " is done 
first, then the thumb is pointed back over the shoulder for 
" back," and then the forefinger is held up for " one." Either 

P 225 


hand may be used. The actions are run smoothly together 
into one rhythmical movement. 

To-morrow is " Day-forward-one." 

Now is indicated by a grasping action of the hand (main- 

The action may be performed comparatively quickly or slowly 
according to the sense which it is desired to express in the word. 
The reader will be surprised to learn that it is possible to express as 
many different tones of " now " with the hand as it is with the 
voice. Of course facial expression, and the whole posture and 
set of the body, have part in this expression by the hands, just 
as they do in the expression by the voice. Consider some 
"nows." There is the threatening approach of a fiendish 
enemy who at last has one in his grasp. He comes toward 
his victim with a devilish leer and, instead of saying " Now ! " 
he holds his hand before him and slowly closes his contorting 
fingers. Try it. There is a totally different movement in the 
hand of the captain who cries to his men awaiting the signal 
for a charge, " Now ! " He clenches his fist and throws his 
whole arm upward and forward in one inspiring command. 
Then there is the eternal " Now " of old Omar, " one moment 
in annihilation's waste." What an infinitude of meaning he 
would express with his fingers as he closed them tenderly 
about the rose that lay in his palm ! 

But such interpretations as these lie outside the scope of 
the present description. We must confine ourselves to plain 
signs for simple meanings. 

Signs such as these (for " day," " king," " here," and so on 
will not be invented by a boy on the spur of the moment as 
he needs them ; and even if some boys are able to devise such 
signs, the rest may not understand the movement on seeing 
it for the first time. Such s3Tnbols must be suggested and 
agreed upon in a council met together — a convention. 

But we did not begin to devise these signs until we found 
it impossible to get on without them in miming. And we 
never made more at one sitting than were immediately required. 
Consequently there was never a long and forbidding vocabulary 
to learn. The boys picked up the necessary signs as need 
occasioned their invention. 


When a sign for " night " was demanded we all thought 
carefully for a while. One boy suggested "day-not," but 
although this would have passed in an emergency, we decided 
to think out something better. I made an equally feeble 
suggfestion, "day-blind," to be shown by closing the eyelids 
with the finger-tips after making the sign for "day." But 
presently it occurred to the youngest boy in the class that if 
the path of the sun was shown to curve over for " day," it might 
be shown to curve under for " night." This was obviously the 
right symbol, and so we straightway adopted it. 

For some time we had found a difficulty in expressing 
"man," "woman," "boy," and "girl." Eventually we 
decided to describe them by the fashion of the hair. 

Man is indicated by placing the hands flat on each side of 
the head. 

Woman is indicated by drawing both hands down from the 
temples to the waist. 

Girl is indicated by ringlets falling to the shoulder. 

Boy is indicated by twiddling the forefinger just above the 
ear to imply " curly-head." 

But one twiddle of the finger is not enough to show the 
ringlets or the curls which imply " girl " or " boy." So small 
an action as a hasty movement of one finger will scarcely be 
caught by the onlooker. These and all the other movements 
of the conventional signs must be done slowly, in a measured 
and rhythmical manner. Slowness is essential in miming. The 
fault of all beginners is to make the movements too quickly. 
This makes the gestures not only difficult to understand but 
ugly in themselves. 

A teacher who is not alive to the beauty of gesture will 
probably not be alive to the value of expressive movement 
at all, and will in consequence be unlikely to introduce miming 
in his classes. But there may be some who will try miming 
either " for the fun of the thing " or at the request of a 
principal, without previously having realized that as much 
seriousness and care is required in the practice of expressive 
movement as in music or speaking. 

Any advice or warning we are able to give is based solely 
upon our own short experience, but whoever will make a few 



s«rious and careful experiments for himself will at once agree 
that miming as a means of expression has real educational 
value. It is therefore worth while to undertake it earnestly. 
We do not wish the slang and Cockney of daily speech to have 
their parallel in the language of gesture, and we hope that 
the public taste in music, as seen in the popular sentimental 
and comic songs, will not be considered a sufficiently high 
standard for miming. 

It is necessary to say a word also about the cinema. A 
few days after we started miming, a senior boy, who in his 
day had been a keen Shakespearean actor and a good mister in 
the third form, met me in hall and said in jest, " What is this 
I hear about your taste having come down to the level of the 
cinema ? It is a great drop, after all you have said about 
drama." Of course our miming has no connexion at all with 
the moving pictures of the cinema. The representation of 
a story without the use of spoken words is all that is common 
between the two. To attempt any closer comparison would 
be as false as to compare the cartoons of Raphael with the 
cartoons in the Daily Mirror because both are drawings ! 
If, as seems to be the case, the cinema has come to stay, men 
of taste might go to the aid of those low-minded men who are 
responsible for the choice of what is thrown upon the screens, 
and show them how to make the entertainment more intelligent 
and less vulgar, without lessening its attractiveness in the least. 
In some respects the cinema has opportunities of representation 
which are denied to the other kinds of stage show. The 
photographers can, for instance, give us coloured and moving 
scenes of streets in all the great cities of the world ; they can 
show Venice, Athens, Rome, Egypt, and the great Cathedrals, 
the Monuments, and the Markets. Scenes may be shown by 
the lake of an Italian garden, in a wooded English park, or 
in the Rocky Mountains. But the effect of these wonderful 
backgrounds is marred by the rubbishy character of the stories 
shown ; and even more by the fact that the cinema method of 
representation ignores all the literary quality of a tale, and 
treats it as a mere string of incidents. Even then the narration 
of this emasculated story has to be eked out by the periodical 
appearance of explanatory labels. The present cinema method 


of telling a story is nothing but external show ; it is a hollow 
sham, a mere travesty of art. But every form of representation 
has certain conditions proper to itself ; there are things you can 
do and things you cannot do in painting, drawing, sculpture, 
acting, and so on. The cinema is not an artistic medium at all, 
but only a machine. Nevertheless there are certain laws and 
conditions which the cinema as a means of representation must 
obey. No one, so far as we can see, has made it his business to 
study the conditions which govern representation by cinema- 
tography. If the money-snatchers could be persuaded to 
allow some higher order of intellectual life to co-operate with 
them in their production, the ubiquitous cinema-show might 
be made quite an interesting experiment. Our position, then, 
with regard to the moving pictures is that we are not indebted 
to them in the slightest degree. But we think it quite possible 
that the introduction of miming in cinema representation might 
be found helpful in civilizing and refining that mechanical 
substitute for the acting of live players. 

Some of the descriptions of our signs, as jotted down in 
words by the boys in their notebooks, are in the right spirit 
of taste. " King " they call " crowned one," " man " 
is "crop-head," "boy" is "curly-head." Thus "prince" 
becomes " crowned curly-head " — a charming description of a 
royal lad. 

At one lesson we invented signs for the days of the week. 
They were not really necessary, but one of the boys began 
with Sunday and Monday, and then we decided to go through 
with it. We already had our sign for " day," and this was of 
course used in each case, preceded by particular descriptive 
signs to indicate the days of the week. 

The sun was a circle drawn with one hand while the other 
described " day." The moon, for Monday, was of course a 
crescent. Tuesday is the day of Tiw, or T^r, who, as the god 
of war in the Norse mythology, was already a familiar figure 
to the boys. Tyr had his right hand bitten off by Fenris the 
wolf. So our conventional sign for Tuesday is described in 
the notes as " Left-hand-sword-day," and is shown by the 
action of drawing a sword from the right thigh with the left 
hand. Thursday gave no difficulty ; it was called " Hammer- 



day," after old Thorr and his trusty Miolnir. Friday became 
" Lady-day " after Frigga, the mother of the gods. 

But what were we to do about Wednesday and Saturday ? 
We knew much about Woden or Othinn, but we were long 
puzzled in our choice among his attributes. At last one of the 
boys remembered that the father of the gods had but one 
eye, having given the other to buy wisdoiQ. Wednesday, 
then, was shown by closing one eye with a finger and drawing 
day with the other hand. The boy at the blackboard wrote 
up, " Wednesday — One-eyed's day." 

For Saturday, the planet and his rings were suggested. 
But every one was sorry to leave the company of the Norse 
gods. I promised to do a little research. As a result of my 
learned labours we described Saturday as " Washing-day " ! 
The action for this was, of course, the " Rub-a-dub-dub," 
familiar to all in the Nursery Rhymes. To have overthrown 
Saturn from his place and described his ancient reign as 
" Washing-day " may appear to some a sad drop from the 
sublime to the commonplace. But if the reader will pursue a 
scholarly research into folk-lore he will find that tradition has 
not been set at naught. And fair white linen has ever been 
associated with godliness. 

As a sign for " week," " seven days " readily suggested 
itself, but we bettered this by adopting " sennight." " Month " 
is "wax and wane." The movement of the thumbs and 
forefingers showing how the crescent fills out into the full 
moon and then thins out again into a silver bow, though 
beautiful to see, would be tedious in a detailed description. 
For " year " the revolution of the earth about the sun is shown 
in a movement of the two fists. 

In the ballad narratives, which we very soon used for 
the stories of our miming, persons generally travelled on 
horseback or by boat. A player wishing to say " I came on 
horseback " would make the signs for " I-ride-here." 
The movement of the hands in a make-beheve of riding is 
familiar in every nursery. Refinements which would 
make it possible to say " hither " instead of " here " or to 
indicate the past and the future tense could easily be invented. 
But it is better to confine oneself to the simple essential things 


first. In any case I am only describing here the conventional 
signs we did invent and bring into daily use. If you were 
directing a traveller to cross a ferry at a certain point you 
would tell him " River-you-row-over." The action for rowing 
is obvious. 

River is indicated by a flowing line, as on a map. If you 
wish to describe its widening or narrowing at a certain spot you 
trace the course with two hands, and draw them together or 
apart to emphasize your point. 

Hill is indicated by a slant. 

House is indicated by a gable. 

Castle is indicated by a line of battlements. 

Scores of other necessary signs for things can be invented 
on this model. But verbs are more difficult. 

To see is indicated by touching the eye-lid, then pointing 
forward and describing the thing seen. 

To hear is indicated by placing a finger behind the ear. 

To think is indicated by pausing with the forefinger on the 

To know or to understand is indicated by touching the 
temple and nodding slowly. 

To ask is indicated by holding out one hand, palm upwards. 

To implore or to pray is indicated by interlacing the fingers. 

To love is indicated by placing one hand on the heart. 

To marry is indicated by touching an imaginary ring on the 
third finger of the left hand with the thumb and forefinger 
of the right hand. 

To lie down is indicated by a depressive movement with the 
open hand, as in the military signal. 

To stop is indicated by the military signal for " Halt." 

Slowly is indicated by a movement similar to " lie down," 
only this is more a stroking. 

Hurry up is indicated by a stirring motion with both hands 
such as is used in shooing hens. But a player expressive in 
gesture can signify " hurry up " with a quick motion of one 
hand — a kind of beckoning upward. 

To sleep is indicated by " folding " the hands and slightly 
inclining the head upon them. 

No, or any form of the negative, is indicated by wagging the 



forefinger. This has been found in practice a more natural 
form of denial than shaking the head. 

The making of a sign for " dead " or " to die " was a 
valuable experience for the players. The need for some des- 
criptive sign arose suddenly while a mime was going on. 
But the boy would not break silence to voice a difficulty. He 
preferred to find some immediate solution and to convey his 
meaning, even if the sign he invented should not prove good 
enough to come into permanent acceptance. 

According to the story they were miming, two princes 
were asking their father which of them should inherit the 
crown. When the time came to put this question the elder 
son fumbled a little, and could not make his meaning clear. 
But the younger pointed to his father, then shut his eyes, 
opened his mouth, and thrust one forefinger into each cheek. 
This was caught at once by the class to mean " You-dead " ; 
and it was followed by the accepted gestures for " I-crowned." 
The newly invented sign for dead (an improvised skeleton 
head) pleased the onlookers by its quaint and almost comical 
effect. But the first comment offered when criticism was 
called for upon the conclusion of the mime was that a better 
sign for " dead " must at once be agreed upon. Nothing 
acceptable to the class was suggested then, and so the comic 
sign lived for a few days. But before long we devised a more 
dignified symbol of death. The eyes were closed and the 
wrists crossed upon the breast in the posture of those old effigies 
one sees upon cathedrals tombs. 

The list of our new-created symbols and gestures need 
not be further prolonged. There is no occasion for the reader 
to be afraid of the number of these signs agreed upon. More 
than half of the new vocabulary we used is comprised in the 
above descriptions. And the signs are all so obvious that, once 
seen and understood, they are set in mind for ever. Moreover 
the signs conventional are so very very few, in proportion to 
the signs universal, that it is possible (as we have often proved) 
for a spectator perfectly to understand a play in mime without 
any previous familiarity with these set signs, even if he has 
never seen a mime in his life before. Even if you should find 
it necessary to invent scores of signs conventional, they will 


but appear now and then in acting, for nine-tenths of the 
descriptive gestures necessary for your story ■will always be 
possible in signs universal. 

Nor must it be thought that there is any initial difficulty 
in miming. Our list of conventional symbols need not deter 
any ingenious person from beginning at once without any 
knowledge or outside help whatever. Assuredly a handy book 
on miming, if it were well written, would be a welcome aid. 
But there are no handy books on the practice of miming, and 
even if there were they would only be catch-penny manuals. 

We started from bare nothing. The boys were simply 
told that to mime was to describe or relate something in 
dumb-show. The idea of expressing meaning by action was 
already familiar to them all in the parlour-game known as 
" Dumb Charades." It rested with the master to see that 
charades when imported to the classroom became a thing of 
value without becoming a whit less entertaining. This case 
Tiffords an excellent illustration of the Play Way principles 
in working. Left entirely to their own devices, the boys 
could hardly be expected to make charades in any real sense 
a vehicle of learning. They would have continued indefinitely 
that somewhat inane occupation of rainy days — ^the guessing 
of acted words. But with a master to infuse something of 
value into the subject-matter and to keep a gmding hand 
upon the representation, the whole occupation was lifted 
from the level of mere pastime to the level of true play. The 
supersession of charades by miming, so far from lessening the 
fun, increased it, made a real interest of it. 

In the beginning the boys were directed to mime the very 
simplest things, such as " Little Miss Muffet." They Uked 
the notion of miming, but were not much impressed with 
the subject suggested. But so soon as one boy had tried 
to mime " Little Miss Muffet " several others sprang up to 
offer criticism. One of the most urgent of the critics was 
invited to try his skill. Some of the simplest details were 
omitted from the story in these early attempts. The critics 
were soon loudly insisting that Miss Muffet did not sit on 
the ground, but on a tuffet. They pointed out that, just 



as Shakespeare mentioned everything in his lines, so the player 
must show everything in his actions or gestures ! But what 
is a tuffet ? Some, in recollection of the pictures in their baby 
books, said a tuffet was a hassock. Some said it was a tuft of 
grass. The master maintained a safe and benevolent neutrality. 
The dictionary gave us no help, so we decided that " tuffet " 
was a rhyme ; and proceeded to the next point of criticism. 

It was claimed by one objector that the last playboy who 
impersonated Miss Muffet had eaten curds and whey without 
ever putting spoon to mouth. A still stronger criticism was 
that the mimist, although he had certainly shown fright enough, 
had not made it clear that it was a spider which had occasioned 
his retirement. " It might have been a bull in the field," 
said one critic. " Or even a clap of thunder," added another. 
Enough difficulties were discovered to make the miming of 
this simple Nursery Rhyme a task worth attempting. 

Before long the master ventured a trial — ^a rare event. He re- 
presented the spider by wriggling the fingers of the right hand, held 
high up and well back, while calmly eating curds and whey with 
the left hand from an imaginary bowl and spoon. The next 
movements were, to look quietly around as though enjoying 
this supper in the meadow ; then, catching sight of the right 
hand behaving like a spider, suddenly to jump aside, throw 
up both hands in horror and make a precipitous exit. This 
was really a most skilful interpretation of the tragic narrative ; 
but even then there were some exacting critics who asked 
whether Miss Muffet had taken the supper bowl along with 
her, or left it for the delectation of the spider. 

The next subject tried was " Little Jack Horner." It 
was no easy matter to satisfy the critics about the pie. One 
boy began by stealing the pie out of the oven. But the only 
way of indicating " Christmas " seemed to be a rather laboured 
reference to Santa Claus and gifts in one's stocking. "He 
put in his thumb " is not so easy as it looks ; for it is unlikely 
that Jack speared the plum instead of using his forefinger 
and thumb in the ordinary way. 

" Curly Locks " proved to be one of our most successful 
mimes. In the hands of two skilful and imaginative playboys 
this Nursery Rhyme can afford a quaint little performance 


fit to be shown on any stage. It was here that we discovered 
our signs conventional for " man," " woman " " girl," and 
" boy," Once we had learnt to call a little girl " Curly Locks " 
it soon occurred to us to describe other folk also by the fashion 
of the hair. Here also we first mimed love and the proposal of 
marriage, which come into so many stories fit for miming. 

The little boy says to the little girl, " Curly Locks, I love 
you. Will you marry me ? " The little girl ponders demurely 
and remains silent. Then he presses his suit more earnestly, 
and soon she looks at him and says, " You love me. I marry 
you ? No." He looks disappointed and she bids him, with 
a motion of one finger. " Mark this." She turns on a tap, 
holds a plate under it, and with the tips of her fingers takes a 
nasty, greasy dish-cloth and cleans the plate. Her face expresses 
her disgust at the business. Then the plate is dried and stood 
on the dresser. The little boy lover begins to protest, but she 
cuts him short with another " Look you " ; and goes again 
through the business of washing a greasy plate. Then she 
tells him that there would be plates and plates and plates to 
wash ; and the rag would get greasier and nastier. When 
her fingers and her face have shown unspoken disgust, she 
concludes with, " No. I'll not marry you." It would be 
meaningless if the little boy simply gave a reassuring denial 
by means of the sign for " No." So, in his reply, he refers 
to the washing-up by repeating her chief gestures in a 
briefer form, such as " tap — opiate — ^greasy — ^rag," and then 
says, " If you marry me there will not be any of that nasty 
washing-up." Or, to put it in the literal order of the words 
mimed, " You — ^marry — ^me. Nasty — ^washing-up — ^you — No." 

The little girl then says again, " But look you." She 
points to where a number of (imaginary) fat creatures, who 
have curly tails and say " Er," are waiting for something to 
eat. She next prepares, with many indications of distaste, 
a mess of kitchen-refuse in a pig-pail, and, holding it away 
from her, steps daintily through the muck of the yard, and 
shoots it over the gate of the sty. Of course to " feed the 
swine," in this traditional verse, more probably means the 
driving out of a herd of clean-bristled animals to feed upon 
he beech-mast and acorns of the forest floor. But for the 



purposes of this mime we thought it better to substitute the 
modem m^uck-pig for the nobler swine of other days. Well, 
the relish of the fat creatures who have curly tails is clearly 
shown, and the dainty lady's disgust at their beastliness is 
made equally apparent. Then with an air of finality she says 
to her lover, " I marry you and do all this for the fat things 
who have curly tails ? Certainly not." The little boy replies. 
He makes a brief reference to her description of pig-tending, 
as he did to her complaint about the nastiness of washing-up. 
He assures her that nothing of the kind will ever be expected 
of her as his wife. On the contrary, he pictures a life of ease 
and luxury, where her hands shall always be clean : where 
she may sleep if she will upon soft cushions, or sew awhile at 
some elegant embroidery. She shall make the fruits and the 
flowers and the birds so real by the skill of her needlecraft 
that he will be content to stay from the orchard and the meadow 
only to look upon her handiwork. He will forgo the hunt 
itself, if only he may pursue the quarry in following her nimble 
fingers. When the time comes to eat and drink, there shall 
be no thought of dishes to wash, or kitchens which make refuse, 
but only " strawberries, sugar, and cream." And so the little 
girl is captivated. It may turn out that the fears of Curly 
Locks were well grounded. Sugar makes a sticky mess upon 
a plate ; and perhaps she will have to keep a cow to supply 
the cream. But this is a digression. The end of the mime was 
that Curly Locks said, as all practically minded little girls 
eventually do say to their rosily romantic lovers, " You love me. 
I marry you." 

Only the very best playboys could mime without previous 
rehearsal or instruction this story as I have described it. 
But if the whole class is given the opportunity of miming, 
the boys soon become proficient, not only in the language of 
gesture, but also in adapting all kinds of stories to make them 
suitable for miming. " Where are you going to, my Pretty 
Maid ? " is already in the form of a dialogue, and consequently 
requires no adaptation. But the little play of " Curly Locks " 
is built up out of eight short lines which, in the Nursery Rhyme, 
are spoken only by the boy lover. " Baa, baa, Black Sheep," 
again, can be mimed without change ; but " Little Bo-Peep " 


will afford any two or three boys an excellent exercise in 
adaptation. We did not really spend much time over repre- 
senting the Nursery Rhymes, but a few more may be mentioned 
here as the easiest illustration of certain points it is necessary 
to make. 

The following are capable of direct representation : 

Where are you going to, my Pretty Maid ? 

Baa, baa. Black Sheep. 

Simple Simon. 

Little Polly Flinders. 

How many Miles is it to Babylon ? * 

Old King Cole. 

The following can be represented by turning the narrative 
form into dialogue : 

I had a little Pony. 

A Frog he would a-wooing go. 

There was a Jolly Miller. 

Taffy was a Welshman. 

There was an Old Woman who lived in a Shoe. 

I love Sixpence. 

Skill of adaptation is needed in these exercises. For instance, 
in " I had a little Pony " a dialogue must be represented between 
the little boy proud of his pony and the lady who comes to 
borrow him for the second time. "No, no," says the boy. 
" Last time I lent him, you whipped him and slashed him and 
rode him through the mire. You shan't have him again at 
any cost." Taffy's defeat could be represented by an amusing 
series of visits, each party calling when the other was not at 
home, and describing his naughty doings in a soliloquy of 

But there is one form of telling a story without word 
which the boys must use but sparingly. That is the acting 

* Miles, or any other tokens of distance, are shown by shading the 
eyes with the open hand and looking far away. Thus ten miles is 
shown as " ten fars." This is quite deiinite enough. 



of incident without the accompaniment of language in gesture. 
Many stories consist entirely of action, and nothing at all is 
said either in words or gestures. 

The following Nursery Rhymes can be acted thus without 
speech of any kind. 

The Lion and the Unicorn. 
The Queen of Hearts. 
Tom, Tom, the Piper's son. 
Humpty Dumpty. 
Jack and Jill. 

The first of these merely consists of a fight and a cadging 
run round the town. In the second the queen simply goes 
through the motions of pastry-making, and then the knave 
comes and steals the tarts. In the third, a pig is stolen and 
a hue and cry made after the thief. " Humpty Dumpty " and 
" Jack and Jill " are represented merely by getting up on 
something and falling down. Obviously there is little of true 
miming in all this. Such play with very yoimg children has 
its place ; and at the very beginning of an experimental course 
of miming with older boys it may be useful. But the players 
must soon be told that talking with the hands is required. 

After trying " Little Miss Muffet," " Curly Locks," " Old 
King Cole," and a few more under the master's direction 
our boys were left to choose their own subjects. At this 
stage the lesson was often conducted for half an hour 
at a stretch without a word being uttered. The mister 
would command attention by raising one hand as if to say 
" Silence." A click of the fingers called the attention 
of any one who was not looking. Then the mister would 
indicate one boy as leader of a mime, and this boy would 
choose several accomplices, and go out of the room for a minute 
or two to arrange the performance. When the players were 
too quick in their movements (and aU the boys mimed too 
quickly in the beginning) the boys in the class would snap 
their fingers and then make the sign for " Slowly." When any 
boy failed to understand a certain movement, he would first 
call attention by this snapping of the fingers, and then indicate 
by a shrug of the shoulders that he could not understand. 


Many players at first used twice as many movements as 
were really necessary for the expression of their meaning. 
But the continuous interruptions of " I don't understand that," 
followed by a repetition of the idle movement, soon caused 
the players to confine themselves to intentional and expressive 
gestures. The players were very keen, and often excited, and 
this was a fine lesson in restraint and self-control. 

When a short story was spun out in mime to a tedious 
length (this was often occasioned by poor players repeating 
themselves again and again for lack of a quick inventiveness 
in devising the next step) the onlookers would snap their 
fingers and make the sign for " Hurry up " ; showing the same 
impatience of tiresome prolixity as they did during Lectures, 
when a speaker spun out his discourse beyond the limit of real 

In the first miming exercises made by these boys without 
the direction of the master the fault of acting incident only, 
without representing any speech, was very noticeable. One 
faoy produced a mime of a barber's shop. There was shaving, 
shampooing, and hair-cutting, but, as the barber ventured 
nothing in the way of conversation, the show was quite 
unconvincing ! Another group of players presented a shoeing- 
forge. One plied the bellows, another was busy with hammer 
and anvil, and there was some entertaining by-play on the 
part of the horse ; but nothing was " said." And when at 
last another group represented a church service, the fault in 
question became apparent to the whole class. We were given 
the playing of the organ, the blowing of the bellows, the reading 
of the lesson ; and also prayers, hymns, and the taking of the 
collection. The parson then went up into the piilpit and 
delivered a soundless sermon, which, for vigorous gesticulation 
(and especially the recourse to a glass of water to mark the 
stages "thirdly" "fourthly," "fifthly") would have done 
credit to a comic cinema star. But when spoken criticism was 
called for several speakers pointed out, and the rest of the 
class agreed, that this dumb-show merely represented externals. 
What lesson had been read ? What hynm had been sung ? 
Upon what subject had the parson preached so earnestly ? 

In this practical way, by trial and manifest error, the 



boys came to learn what a mime should be. They had 
now realized the need for speech to be represented. To 
make this realization quite sure I then directed that repre- 
sentation by the acting of players be entirely suspended for 
a space, and meaning conveyed in gesture by a single mimist 
in the form of an anecdote. This struck the boys as a very 
difficult exercise. And so it was. But several anecdotes 
were successfully narrated without a word being uttered. 
The performer would go through his exercise without having 
told the class beforehand what he was about to show. One 
told that chestnut of the boy who had been swimming, contrary 
to his mother's orders. He represented both sides of the 
dialogue, indicating the mother or the son in turn by making 
the sign for " woman " or " boy," and shifting his position to 
the right or to the left. The mother asks the boy if he has been 
swimming. He denies it. She points out that his hair is wet. 
He replies that he had not meant to go in the water, but found 
the temptation too much for him. She preaches to him that 
when he is tempted he must say to the Devil, " Get thee behind 
me, Satan." The boy replies that he did so, but the Devil got 
behind and pushed him in ! The Devil was shown as *' that 
horned one, horrid, with a long barbed tail." 

An even more difficult anecdote was well told by another 
player. Two boys have stolen some apples (or nuts — ^the 
mimist was criticized for not making clear precisely what he 
meant by " round eatable things off a tree ") and have climbed 
over the wall into a graveyard to apportion the spoil between 
them. But in clambering over they have dropped two apples, 
and dare not go back for them because the old sexton (shown 
in mime as " old man of the graveyard ") is coming along, 
the road and they might be seen. While they are coimting 
" One for you, and one for me," the parson and the sexton 
chance to meet in the roadway on the other side of the wall. 
After listening a while the old sexton tells the parson that in 
the graveyard over the wall God and the Devil are sharing out 
the dead. At this moment one of the boys says, " That's all." 
But the other asks, " What about those two on the other side 
of the wall ? " Consternation of the sexton and the parson ! 

It is not a story of any arfKb laierit, but it is an extremely 


difficult exercise for a boy to have chosen as a subject for miming. 
Yet I can assure the reader that I myself and quite half the 
class understood the story from the boy's gestures and signs. 
One of those who had understood then told the story to the 
class in words. The only real discrepancy between the two 
versions was that one boy said apples though the other had 
intended nuts. 

There had previously been no sign conventional agreed 
upon for " God." The narrator's first idea, shown in gesture, 
after a scarcely perceptible pause, was " Crown of Prayer." 
That phrase, of course, is only my way of stating what I saw. 
The boy himself would probably have worded his gesture as 
" King to whom one prays." But the idea, however it be stated 
in words, is a beautiful idea. Those of my readers who (though 
not perhaps shocked at the anecdote itself) are inclined to 
feel that the idea of the Deity, in connexion with this story, 
could not have been in any sense a noble conception in the boy's 
mind, are asked to try and forget the puritan outlook, the 
limited and fearful notions of modern belief, and think them- 
selves back into those days of a simpler and more childlike 
faith — ^mediaeval days if you like — when belief was robust and 
hearty, and an honest man could without blasphemy share 
even his jokes with God. Later on I met a man who told me 
that he remembered somewhere having seen God represented 
in symbolism by forming the arms into a circle with the face 
looking through. This somehow reminded me of Blake. 

One morning the boys were anxious to spend the English 
period in miming, but we had suspended plays in mime 
for the time being, and no one volunteered to describe an 
anecdote. So I called upon one boy to relate to the class om 
experiences of the night before. It was the winter term and 
a group of these boys had been learning the folk-carols 
with a view to singing them outside the houses of oxa friends 
when Christmas came near. Two of the senior boys came 
with us on these wanderings and played their fiddles, and several 
grown-up friends joined us with viola, 'cello, and voice. In 
all, our band of waits numbered about fifteen, and eight of the 
boys carried lanterns hung upon scout-poles to show a light 
for the musicians. We did not march in fours along the street, 

Q 241 


but trooped from house to house in a scattered procession, and 
the light from the swinging lanterns as the boys ran hither and 
thither gave a wil]-o'-the--wisp impression which was very 
pleasing. And when the company was clustered together 
outside some door to give its performance, the lanterns lighted 
up such a group of merry faces that any one could see that our 
charity began at home, and that the benefit of these outings did 
not entirely consist in the money we collected for a Red Cross 

The boy who was called upon to narrate in mime the 
happenings of the previous evening described this lantern- 
lighted throng of singers and musicians. He related who 
played, who sang ; and told how a certain person, who had 
no skill with voice or fiddle, bore a box with a slit in it, and 
knocked the knockers and rang the bells of the house-doors 
to take toll of the good people within. The other boys were 
interested to learn of our good fortune in having been received 
with such hospitality at several houses that we actually had 
to decline cakes and buns and ginger-beer and coffee after the 
first few visits. I asked the boy if he could not tell the others 
what carols we had sung, and he then described in gesture, 
" The Wassail Song," " King Herod and the Cock," and " Mary 
Mother Mild." * This boy was our chief mimist ; it is doubtful 
if any other boy could have done this. He finished his story by 
telling how one of the playboys had been taken ill at the last 
house we visited. But fortunately it was a doctor's house. 
The doctor-man revived the boy, who had nearly fainted, and 
then very kindly offered to drive three of them to their homes. 
The conclusion of this narrative in gesture had the same effect 
upon me as if I had read it in a piece of well-written prose ; 
though of course I must content myself here with a mere 
description of the events related. The first house was reached. 
The boy got out, shut the door of the car, raised his cap and 
thanked the doctor, and then went straight in to bed. The 
second house was the home of the boy who had been unwell. 
The doctor hoped he was better now. The boy thanked him 
for his kindness, said good night, and went in to go to bed. Then 

* See " English Folk-Carols " collected by CecU J. Sharp (Novello) 
and Perse Playbooks, No. 5, p. 163. 


the boy who was teUing the story was taken to his home. He 
also thanked the doctor, then went to bed, and was soon asleep. 
But the doctor had still to get home. He started his engine, 
leapt to his seat, turned various corners, and at last arrived 
at his house. Here he put the car in the garage, let himself 
in with his latch-key, found that all his household was in bed, 
and so himself retired, and was soon asleep. " So," concluded 
the playboy with the customary bow, " everybody sleeping." 

Not only was there much skill in the description of the 
night's events solely in gesture, but surely some art of peroration 

After a little practice in the difficult exercise of relating 
anecdotes in gesture, the boys were ready to include plenty 
of speech-gesture (as distinct from mere acted epidodes) in 
the miming of dramatized stories. One of the best mimes 
performed at this period was the story of King Alfred in the 
camp of the Danes. The Danes were described as " Winged 
Hats," but we could think of nothing appropriate for the 
English, and referred to them simply as " Our men." A single 
player performed this mime. 

Taking the part of Alfred, he crept up to a tent in which 
the Danish leader and his captains were discussing their plan 
of campaign. A more clever piece of acting could not be 
desired. The boy represented with one hand the part of the 
harper-king. He told us who he was and what he was about, 
and made clear the danger he was in as a spy in the enemy's 
camp. With the other hand he first showed, by touching 
the ear and holding up one finger, that he was listening atten- 
tively, and then described what he heard of the plans which 
were being discussed within the Danish tent. 

As I write I can see the figure of the king in the dark, 
straining to catch the drift of the murmured conference ; I 
can see the group of " Winged Hats " sitting about the table 
inside the tent, while in the dim light of a lamp the leader's 
long finger maps out his plans for the disposition of his men 
and his ships. Yet there was no tent, no lamps, no darkness, 
no " Winged Hats " even. There was nothing but a single boy 
in ordinary school dress making a story live in the play of his 



While such a mime is going on the other boys sit quietly 
but they are by no means idle. They " play with their fancies," 
as Shakespeare directs, and " eke out the performance with 
their minds." And so it happened that, although the master 
was more than pleased with this piece of acting, several of the 
Littlemen at once sprang up to offer critical suggestions. They 
took for granted all the brilUant representation of Alfred the 
King, and began to discuss the weak points in the Danish 
leader's plan of campaign ! I excused the player to his critics 
on the ground that he was doing several things at the same 
time, and had but one hand with which to represent the leader 
and his captains and all they were saying. Two of the critics 
were then sent up to the platform to mime the parts of the 
leader and his second in command. 

The leader began by showing " Here is a line of hills, and 
here another. The valley runs along here. Now the English 

will march along this valley " 

" Why should they ? " interrupted the captain. 
" Because there is no other road for them to march on," 
replied the leader. " You will take half our men and go up 
the hills, here, and I with the rest will go up on the other side, 
here. Then as the English reach this point in the valley 
between us, we rush down from both sides and fall upon them." 
" No," said the captain, " they will see us coming down 
the hills, and will make off along the valley." 

" There are trees enough on the hill-side," replied the leader, 
" to hide all our men." 

But the captain still protested. " The English are not 
so foolish as to march along this valley without having scouts 
ahead on the hills on either side." 

The Danish leader was persuaded in the end to abandon 
his plan of campaign. The details need not be further related, 
but the discussion of that matter outlasted the period. And 
yet no one was allowed to speak a word. 

We next took the stories of the traditional ballads and 
acted them in mime. It is very good to have many devices 
for use in connexion with the ballads ; for the essential 
thing about a ballad is that it should be thoroughly 
familiar. Poems, plays, stories, and essays may be read and 


carefully studied, and then set aside. But your knowledge 
of a ballad is not complete, your work upon it is not finished, 
unless you carry it for ever after in your mind. Ballads above 
all else in literature must be known by heart. It is poor fun 
learning a few stanzas at a time for homework. And repeated 
readings and re-readings in class are almost as dull, once the 
story is known. Here then, once again, comes in the school 
necessity which is the mother of Play Ways. 

In the first place a ballad may be read aloud by one boy 
while the rest listen with their books closed. This method 
has obvious advantages for a first reading. Then the ballad 
can be read again by one or several of the boys while the rest 
follow in their books. Any discussion which springs up of its 
own accord should of course be permitted. But it seems to me 
a mistake for a master, in connexion with such a simple thing 
as a ballad, artificially to raise inquiry by asking unnecessary 
questions. If difficulties are thus made where no real diflBculties 
exist, the boys will be less likely to turn to the reading of ballads 
for their own enjoyment out of school. The matter has been 
mentioned before in these pages ; and the suggestion has been 
made that teachers still consider everything a matter for 
questions and problems simply because they cannot think of 
anything better to do. 

A good way of getting a ballad read carefully time and again, 
without risking that boredom which robs learning of its joy 
and makes study a thing of naught, is, after the first two or 
three readings, to bring in an alternative version of the ballad. 
Comparisons are interesting, and the quest of them causes one 
to read both versions several times. By this time the ballad 
will already be shaping in the memory. Then many of the 
ballads can be read in parts by a number of boys, with one of 
them acting as chorus to fill in the narrative passages. The 

mister reads. 

The king sits in Dunfermline town 
Drinking the blude-red wine ; 

and the king reads, 

" O whare will I get a skeely skipper 
To sail this new ship o' mine ? " 



The mister even puts in " He said " and " She cried." Even so 
simple a device as this adds variety, and gives you another 
reading or two without boredom. Then again, we have often 
borrowed the tunes of the folk-ballads which have been recently 
collected by Mr. CecU Sharp and others, and have used them for 
the ballads in our other books. Thus we have sung " King 
Estmere" to the tune of "Ward the Pirate," and "Young 
Bekie " to the tune of " The Outlandish Knight." We only 
did this in a rough-and-ready manner in the classroom, and 
without any accompaniment. Here and there the words and 
the music did not quite fit, but we made adjustments in passing 
and thus gaily sang through our ballads instead of reading 
them. It is only fair to the music master to add that he would 
not have approved of these singing lessons ! 

Ballads, again, can be acted without book. You have 
at command a good actable story and a number of keen players. 
Nothing more is needed but floor-space, and a few odds and 
ends to serve as properties. The mister plans the scenes, 
and the players make up their parts as they go along, using 
whenever possible the actual words of the ballad. My readers 
may fear that to attempt the performance of a play without 
preparation is to court failure. Of course it is. The first 
effort, when a spoken part has to be taken extempore, generally 
results in a shocking mess. It is this very disaster which 
causes the boys to read the ballad again very carefully, and 
to commit great swarths of it to memory against the next 
day when the master shall be in a good mood, and may be 
approached with " May we act ' King Estmere ' ? " Few teachers 
realize that the process of learning consists as much in failure 
as in success. 

Finally, as a method of making ballads thoroughly familiar, 
there is miming. There need be no fear that the absence of words 
in miming implies any loss in the study of a ballad in this way. 
It is one of the characteristic virtues of the traditional ballads 
that they give the bare story without trimmings or ornament ; 
so that the players, by the time they know the story well 
enough to represent it in detail, will already have the stanzas 
almost by heart. And, as the story has never been thought 
of apart from its ballad form, the words and the phrasing, and 


the very rhymes and rhythms, will be running in every one's 
head all the time. 

The ballad of " Young Bekie " opens thus : 

Young Bekie was as brave a knight 

As ever saOed the sea ; 
An' he's done him to the court of France, 

To serve for meat and fee. 

The first scene of the mime will show Young Bekie, a fine 
upstanding young fellow, presenting himself to the King of 
France, and offering his knightly service. The king accepts 
Young Bekie as his man, and presents him to his daughter, 
Burd Isbel. 

He had nae been i' the court of France 

A twelvemonth nor sae long, 
Till he feU in love with the king's daughter. 
An' was thrown in prison strong. 

The first two lines of this stanza are passed over. The second 
pair supply all the material required to complete the two opening 
scenes. The king tells his daughter to entertain the young man, 
and then he goes out. This exit, however, did not seem 
convincing to our playboys ; and so the second time the mime 
was given, they arranged for a " little wee page " to enter at 
this point with a scroll of some business which required his 
majesty's immediate attention. The king, therefore, begs the 
young knight to excuse him while he attends to this urgent 
matter, and goes off the stage with good reason. After he 
has gone, the young couple chat for a while about things in 
general. If the mime were being represented fully as a stage 
performance, " music and a song " would be introduced at 
this point. Eventually the knight declares his love for the 
lady. She is on the point of accepting him as her lover when 
the king returns* He is very angry indeed ; bids the princess 
out of his sight, and straightway sends Sir Bekie to prison. 
The details of this sending to prison are mimed in the following 
manner ; the king claps his hands, and a little page comes 
in and bows. A janitor is summoned, and the king directs 
him to take * big key, open a heavy door ; then manacle this 



fellow and thrust him in. " There shalt thou stay for many 
a month," he adds to the wretched knight. 

If the mime is being performed in the classroom, most 
of the stage-fittings will have to be imaginary. The second 
scene then opens with the entrance of the janitor bringing 
in Young Bekie with his hands crossed, as though manacled. 
Boys are always vivid in representation, and it is probable 
that the player taking the part of Bekie will hobble in as 
though his ankles also were fettered. Our playboy, in point 
of fact, after the first performance, cautioned the king always 
to command this ankle-fettering in futiire. If the janitor 
does his part well, there need be no one among the onlookers 
who does not most clearly see the key unhitched &om his 
leathern belt, the opening of the ponderous door, the thrusting 
in of the prisoner, and the parting appeals and jeers exchanged 
through the iron grill. Yet if you look blindly you will see 
nothing but two boys making signs at one another through the 
barred back of a Windsor chair ! 

Visitors who casually dropped in and looked on at two 
or three miming lessons out of a consecutive series of fifty 
must have wondered how sane persons could spend so much time 
in making apparently unintelligible gestures. But any language 
sounds barbarous to one who does not understand it. 

It has taken many words to describe the representation 
of those two lines, consisting of scarce a score of syllables. 
And the acting of those two scenes might easUy fiU twenty 
minutes. Yet no one could accuse the players of having added 
any ornament or trimnlings. It happens that ballad-narrative 
is most condensed. 

The three verses which follow tell how the lady went to 
the prison-house, and heard the captive making his moan. 
The shrewd Bekie spies her through the bars, but affects to 
be unaware of her presence, and makes a piteous appeal for 
some lady who will borrow him for a footpage, or some widow 
who will take him as her son. Then he cries : 

" Or gin a virgin would borrow me, 
I would wed her wi' a ring ; 
I'd gie her ha's, I'd gie her bowers, 
The bonny tow'rs o' Linne." 





She then comes to the grill, and they talk together. She 
tries to force the door, and he tries to rid himself of the fetters ; 
but of course it is of no avail. The lady then goes away deep 
in thought. Presently she returns on tiptoe and tells her 
lover that she has found her father asleep, and is going to steal 
his keys. 

O barefoot, barefoot gaed she but, 
An' barefoot came she ben ; 

It was no for want o' hose an' shoou, 
Nor time to put them on ; 

But a' for fear that her father dear, 

Had heard her making din : 
She's stown the keys o' the prison-house door, 

An' latten the prisoner gang. 

The theft of the keys shoiJd be shown in the mime, and this 
is easily contrived. The stage must represent two places 
at once. Then, either the king enters on one side and lies 
down to sleep while his daughter is at the prison on the other 
side of the stage, or she meets him as she is leaving the prison 
and, seeing the keys at his belt, wheedles the old man into taking 
an afternoon doze. The second plan is the more convincing, 
but the more difficult. It is the plan which our playboys 
devised ; for they aim always at the truest and most natural 
representation of their story, without thinking of difficulties 
beforehand. A playboy pursuing the easiest way would, of 
course, simply go off the stage to get the key and presently 
return with it in his hand. But this would be depriving the 
onlookers of a scene they would fain have witnessed, as well 
as throwing away the opportunity for some good acting by 
two of the players. 

The next few stanzas of this ballad afford the richest 
miming stuff that any playboy could desire. Burd Isbel 
liberates her lover : 

O whan she saw him Young Bekie, 

Her heart was wondrous sair ! 
For the mice but an' the bold rottons • 

Had eaten his yallow hair. 

* This is simply a metrical way of saying, " the mice and the rats. 



Any one reading this ballad will not, of course, pause to 
think over that stanza, but will just give one laugh and read 
on. But think of it staged. The lady comes nimbly to set 
free her splendid knight, and, on the opening of the great door, 
out comes a pathetic figure with his lovely golden hair all 
nibbled by the mice and rats which have been running about 
in the straw of his cell. This excellent picture of comedy 
will always stick in my memory as it was brought to life one 
evening after tea in my room, when two or three Littlemen, 
without costume or any apparatus but one Windsor chair, 
mimed the story they had read in school. The players performed 
in a little inner room which was lighted, while the rest of us 
sat in darkness. For half an hour there was no sound from the 
whole party, save for a periodical outburst of Shakespearean 
laughter when a point of comedy got home. It was only 
later on in the evening, when the players were fast asleep in 
their beds, that I realized that these were schoolboys, and 
that their evening's amusement showed them to possess a very 
firm grasp of what their teacher called miming, balladry, play- 
making, Shakespeare, discipline, and above all, activity in 
their own learning. 

Although we had consciously been pursuing the Play Way 
for some years, it came as a new surprise to me that night 
that so much pleasure could be taken in the exercise of learning, 
and so much learning shown in the sheer exercise of pleasure. 

Burd Isbel followed in every detail the next stanza of the 

She's gi'en him a shaver for his beard, 

A comber till bis hair. 
Five himder pound in his pocket. 
To spen' and nae to spair. 

The shaver and the comber had been fetched by Buid 
fsbel from somewhere off the stage. The " five hunder pound " 
was represented by a bag of money stolen from the king at 
the same time as the key. All these things could easily have 
been brought in as concrete properties ; rulers would have 
served for shaver and comber, and a duster could have been 
tied up in a bundle for the bag of money. But the player 
in this instance preferred to mime everything, to have even his 


properties imaginary. And, of course, having brought these 
things into existence in our minds, he had to account for them 
all, carry them to the prison, and put them down while he 
unlocked the door. This he did with such vividness and 
precision that those of us who were giAdng our diligent attention 
could have said positively at any moment which of the imaginary 
properties the player was handling, whether the razor, the 
comb, the bag of money, or the big key. Burd Isbel could 
not bring the rest of her gifts to the prison, but she promised 
her lover a steed and a saddle and a leash of hounds. Then 

Atween this twa a vow was made, 

'Twas made full solemnly. 
That or three years was come and gane. 

Well married they should be. 

Here the scene ends, and Sir Bekie will steal away to England 
as soon as he can. The playboy who was acting the lady's 
part put in a delightful little touch of character at this point. 
While they were making their farewell she alluded again to 
his nibbled hair, and said in much distress what a shame it 
was that he should be so disfigured. Then, suddenly, brightening 
again into her practical and sunny self, she added cheerily, 
" But in three years it will have plenty of time to grow again ! " 
And so they parted with merry laughter. 
The story continues, 

He had nae been in's ain country 

A twelvemonth till an end, 
Till he's forced to marry a duke's daughter. 

Or then lose a' his land. 

The playboys can easily make a scene of this stanza if some 
method is devised of indicating the possession of land. A 
tenure-sword might be agreed upon as the sign conventional 
to represent Bekie's title to his estates. Then Sir Bekie, on 
his return from France, can find the villainous duke in possession 
of this tenure-sword ; and the duke can force the knight to 
marry his daughter by threats of dispossession. Burd Isbel 
is made awajc of this unhappy trend of events by a vision, 



in which the benevolent household sprite, " Billy Blin," appears 
to her. 

O it fell once upon a day 
Burd Isbel fell asleep, 
An' up it starts the Billy Blin, 
An' stood at her bed-feet. 

This makes an excellent scene. The good little demon 
tells the lady in detail what she is to do, how she is to dress 
herself and two of her mother's maids, and how she is to get a 
boat ; and he himself promises to come at her call and be 
the steerer to row them o'er the sea. So this sweet and brave 
princess goes over to England to liberate her lover for the second 
time. The rest of the story needs no detailed description here, 
for all the necessary action will be found clearly given in the 
lines. Thus : 

She's pitten her hand in her pocket 
Gi'n the porter guineas three. 

And again, of the porter : 

O whan that he came up the stair 
He fell low down on his knee. 

Though the ballad tells the whole story in thirty-six stanzas 
only, the representation of it in mime will take an hour or two. 
But even if it should take a week it is well worth all the time 
passed upon it. Surely any teacher who could take such a 
ballad as this, and make it the subject of " literature lessons " 
in which word-study was made of more importance than the 
tale, would be guilty of a crime not only against literature 
but against life-lore itself. How much real learning is at once 
too simple and too joyous to engage the attention of school- 
masters ! 

Among many other ballads which will make whole plays 
in mime " The Lord of Learne " and " King Estmere " 
must be specially mentioned.* " The Lord of Leame " 

* AU these are available for school use in the collection of " Old 
Ballads " edited by Frank Sidgwick, and published by the Cambridge 
University Press. 


mns into more than a hundred stanzas, but it can of 
course, Uke any other story, be subdivided. King Estmere 
has been ever an especial favourite with us. Estmere and his 
brother Adler, although they set about to find a queen, and 
although they have " dukes and lords and knights " at their 
command, are essentially boys. " The king his son of Spain," 
that foul paynim with the kempery-men at his back, who swore 
to pull down the halls and castles if he could not have the lady, 
makes the right lusty villain of the piece. Childe Estmere 
might well be proud to have such a man to his foe. King 
Adland, the timorous old father, is a character which any clever 
boy can make live. And his daughter, although she does not play 
so full a part in this story as Burd Isbel does in " Young Bekie," 
is nevertheless not the colourless ineffectual maiden such as 
one finds in some romances, but a young lady of wit and purpose. 
She snaps her fingers in the paynim's face, tells her trembling 
father that his castles and towers are strong, and decides very 
definitely that she will marry the man she wants to marry, 
and will have " none of your swaggerers." 

The ballad of King Estmere can be easily mimed, because 
there is very little discussion in it, and plenty of expressive 
action. King Estmere and his brother Adler gallop to and 
fro upon their horses. The King of Spain blusters in with his 
meiny of kempers. Every one is eager to get things done. 
All affairs are urgent. 

They had not ridden scant a mile, 

A mile forth of the to-wn, 
But in did come the King of Spain 

With kempes many a one ; 

But in did come the King of Spain 

With many a bold barone, 
Tone day to marry King Adland's daughter, 

Tother day to carry her home. 

She sent one after King Estmere 

In all the speed might be. 
That he must either turn and fight, 

Or go home and lose his lady. 

The very ring of the lines warns you that it is impossible to 



walk through such a story ; far less sit through it. We seized 
two bamboo curtain-poles to serve as hobby-horses for King 
Estmere and Adler yoimg, and on these they capered and 
cantered through the epic ! Horses of some kind must be found 
for the boys, for time after time they " renish them to ride of 
two good renisht steeds." And, on his return to the castle of 
Adland, Childe Estmere splendidly rides into the hall where the 
banquet is going on, and 

The froth that came from his bridle-bit 
Light in King Bremer's beard. 

The play brings in many a thing which delights the hearts 
of boys. There is magic, or gramary, for purposes of disguise 
and safeguard : 

There grows an herb -within this field 

And if it were but known ; 
His colour, which is white and red. 

It will make black and brown ; 

His colour, which is brown and black 

It will make red and white ; 
That sword is not in all England 

Upon his coat will bite. 

There is music and song : 

And you shaU be the best harper 

That ever took harp in hand, 
And I will be the best singer 

That ever sang in this land. 

And there is a great fight to end it all : 

Up then rose the kempery-men 

And loud they gan to cry ; 
" Ah, traitors, ye have slain our king. 

And therefore ye shall die." 

King Estmere threw his harp aside, 

And swithe he drew his brand. 
And Estmere, he, and Adler young 
Right stiff in stour did stand. 


If our schoolmasters knew their business as teachers of 
literature to boys, this ballad of King Estmere would be known 
by heart in all the schools of England. And then, if the teachers 
objected to any acting in the classroom, King Estmere would 
nevertheless be played, in nurseries and suburban gardens, 
and even in the courts and back alleys of the great cities all 
up and down the country. 

The stories of most of the ballads include a love-affair 
of some kind, and teachers might expect on that ground 
to find the boys not in favour of ballads for acting purposes. 
Your sturdy English boy considers love-making a silly 
business. And if Peter thought he was expected to 
stand out before his fellows and go billing and cooing with 
his friend Jack, he might well say, " I'll be blowed first." He 
might, with even greater justice, offer to see some one else 
" blowed " ; for the master whose boys regard the acting of 
ballads in this light has himself a totally wrong way with boys, 
and has given them a totally wrong idea of ballads. The love 
element in all these old romances, so far as their stage representa- 
tion is concerned, is not a kissing business at all ; it is an occasion 
for the utterance of fine poetry. It is not soft wooing, but 
brave courting. It is not the whispering of amorous senti- 
mentalities, but outspoken gallantry, courtly vows and pro- 
testations. In a word, it is not cuddling, but chivalry. 

Littlemen know nothing at all of one kind of love, the way 
of a man with a maid ; and they are impatient of all kissing. 
But in that kind of love which is chivalry, the knight's devotion 
to his lady's service, they can ride at ease among the truest 
romantic poets. 

I am anxious to make this point perfectly clear because, 
although the true representation of parts in character may 
be a matter of no account to those who confess themselves 
mere book-teachers, it is a matter of great moment to play- 
masters, and those who feel for the life of the study in the minds 
of the boys. The play-methods must not run counter to any 
natural feelings of the boys. Many teachers will think that 
it must be against a boy's instinct to act the part of a girl. 

Given the least opening, the least suspicion of " girlishness," 
a righfc-minded boy is only too ready to " see you blowed first," 



and to resent this proposed upset of his boyishness. For 
when a playboy acts well he puts himself into his part, lives 
in character. How then can he, a boy, live a girl's part ? * 
The teacher who goes in for play at all thoroughly must soon 
come upon this difficulty; and the danger is that he will 
atLempt its solution by permitting all the female parts to be 
simply " walked through." This is to sacrifice in the repre- 
sentation that thoroughness which alone makes any art a thing 
of value. If we have the women's parts casually presented 
" then the play is marred ; it goes not forward, doth it " ? 

The solution of this difficulty, as it seems to me, lies in 
a master's complete understanding of his boys — ^not boys 
in general, but his very boys — and a complete tmderstanding 
also of the subject he is teaching. This may seem a heavy 
requirement in any teacher ; but it is, I must protest, the 
first essential of method in playmastery. Given this under- 
standing a master will not offend either the player or the play. 
" The lady shall say her mind freely," and the blank 
verse shall not halt for't. The playmaster with any insight 
will realize that the boy, being an unselfconscious Uttle fellow 
is not really unable or unwilling to take a woman's part. His 
objection is a very simple one. He is told to act " the girl," 
and he fancies, without thinking, that he will have to stand 
up before his fellows and behave in the silly simpering manner 
which he usually associates with love-making and girls, unless 
he has been properly brought up with them.f 

* There must be no confusion of this matter with the question of 
Shakespeare's boy-players and their acting of women's parts. The 
Elizabethan playboy was doubtless coached and rehearsed and put 
through his paces in every imaginable way, in order that he might fitly 
present a play before an audience. After highly specialized training 
a boy could represent any woman's part. But the playboys in the class- 
room must interpret the play as they go along (with a minimmn of coaching 
in the acting) and solely for their own benefit. This is a very important 

t AU that is said here refers solely to those plays in which boys 
take all the parts. It would be very interesting to Imow exactly what 
is possible when the female parts are played by little girls. I have no 
experience at all in co-education, and have refrained from making 
guesses. The love-affairs of the romances would of course have to be 
represented in the same chivalrous manner between boys and girls as 


But, as has been said, there is no silliness about the girls 
in these romances, nothing mawkish about the ladies and the 
queens, and nothing sentimental in their love-affairs. What 
boy could find anything derogatory to his boyhood even in 
the childish character of Curly Locks when treated as we 
treated it in our mime ? What playboy would not gladly seize 
the opportunity to act Burd Isbel rather than to represent 
the minor majesty of the king, her father ? And which of 
your boys have you so mistaught that he will find the vigorous 
love-maldng of King Estmere imbefitting the nature of a 
thorough-going Littleman ? 

Then King Estmere pulled forth his harp 

And played a pretty thing ; 
The lady upstart from the board 

And would have gone from the king. 

He played again both loud and shrill, 

And Adler he did sing — 
" O lady, this is thy own true love ; 

No harper, but a king. 

" O lady this is thy own true love, 

As plainly thou mayst see, 
And I'll rid thee of that foul paynim 

Who parts thy love and thee." 

That is the Estmere vein. It is true that the ballad says 

The lady looked, the lady blushed. 

And blushed and looked again. 
While Adler he hath drawn his brand 

And hath the Sowdan slain. 

they are between boys alone. Girls would, presumably, be able to act 
girls' parts at least as well as the boys can. But the representation of 
boys' and men's parts by girls, whether in the amateur shows at girls' 
schools or on the professional stage, gives one little hope of then: actmg 
powers. Girls have no initiative. 

It is not by any means certain that even Shakespeare's female char- 
acters are best acted by women. Viola and Rosalind, at all events, can 
only be properly done by boys. The modern practice of givmg aU Shake- 
speare's boys, princes, and pages to be played by women is of course 
indefensible. To have a weU-shaped young woman mmcmg about the 
stage on high heels, with her legs clad in pink tights, may be good baUet 
or " revue," but it is most certainly not Shakespeare. 

B 257 


But we may be sure that the interest of all, including not least 
the lady, will be so centred in the slaughter of the Sowdan 
that no one will look critically to mark whether or not the 
playboy can conjure up a maidenly blush. 

A little boy of eleven once entertained us for a whole hour 
at tea-time by making heroic love, in the Estmere vein, to a 
girl of twenty. Of course he was doing it for fim ; and very 
good fun we all had of it. But the fine ideas he struck upon 
were a great thing to hear, and the fashioning of his knightly 
vows, cried straight out in a moment of play, were pure 
poetry. I believe the affair ended in my being slain as a false 
steward, or an ogre, or a rival lover, or something of the 

Another boy, aged ten, was once acting at school in " Sir 
Patrick Spens " as " the king's daughter o' Norroway." No 
books were in use at the moment, and the boys were composing 
their parts extempore in ballad measure. TTiis, believe me, is 
none too easy. I can remember but one of this boy's stanzas in 
the character of a princess. But the second line alone is enough 
to show that he did not feel that he " would be blowed first " : 

O bring to me my robe of silk 

And a girdle of rubies red, 
Go, fetch me here a crovm of gold 

And set it upon my head. 

This type of love and ladyship, then, as seen in our examples 
from the romances of Curly Locks, Burd Isbel, King Estmere's 
queen and the king's daughter o' Norroway, is the kind of 
chivalrous love which I know Littleman can appreciate. 
Possibly these few brief instances of high romance, and of the 
poetry which Littleman uses as a medium even in nursery 
or classroom play, will make more clear what we meant by 
quoting at the end of the chapter on Shakespeare the words 
of Sir Walter Raleigh : " With the disappearance of the boy- 
players the poetic drama died in England, and it has had no 
second hfe." For, with the possible exception of the Irish 
plays of J. M, Sjmge, we know of nothing in the way of poetic 
drama to-day at all comparable with the old romantic plays 
as acted by boys, 


This is not the place to open a discussion on the whole 
field of poetry. But in connexion with all that is said in 
this chapter, I should like to record my conviction that modem 
poetry can only be cured of its headache by a tonic draught 
of boys and balladry. The poems of adults to-day are vague 
and sickly, or harsh, flatulent things. Before we can write 
again with the fullness and glory of Spenser and Milton and 
Shakespeare we must learn again the secret of that English 
freshness in Chaucer ; the secret of that vision and simplicity 
in Blake ; the secret of that merry wit, and simple, touching 
pathos in the folk-songs and ballads. We must learn the 
secret of inspiration and of play. The secret of all this is with 
the boys of England. I have found it there. 

In conclusion of this account of miming and the ballads a 
description shall be given of an entirely original play which 
lasted three-quarters of an hour, and yet had taken less than 
ten minutes to prepare. 

Our band of carol-singers and musicians met one evening 
at the house, but we were prevented by the weather from 
going out on our rounds. The Littlemen were eager to stay 
at home instead, and spend the evening in miming. But by 
the time tea was done the weather had cleared, and the lady 
director of the singing was in favour of our going the rounds, 
the more especially since she had promised several friends 
in the neighbourhood that the troupe would pay them a visit 
that evening. But, being now set on miming, we outvoted 
the lady director of the singing and stayed at home. Then 
I suggested to the boys that they should take a ballad entirely 
new to them, and see what they could make of it as 
a play, without any preparatory discussion or rehearsal. 
The ballad taken was the following.* It is the composition 
of one of the playboys of the school ; but it was written two 
years before this date, and was quite imknown to the 

* The ballad will be found in Perse Playbooks, No. 2, p. 62, under 
the title of " The Two Brothers." 




The king sits on his golden throne, 

With his two sons at his knee. 
" The one that fetches the golden cup 

Shall reign king after me." 

The two brothers at once set oft 

To fetch the golden cup. 
The younger one was faster much 

When he was in the stirrup. 

At last he came to the castle grim, 

Wherein the cup did lie ; 
And he had started back again 

Before the sun was high. 

And when he came to a lonely wood 

His brother he espied 
Running to him with all his speed, 

With his long sword at his side. 

He's stabbed his brother through the heart, 
And he's ta'en the cup from his hand. 

And hastened back to his good father. 
To reign o'er all the land. 

It happened that in the house at this time was a schoohoom 
hung with curtains as a temporary stage,* and in lockers near 
at hand were stored the dresses which had been used a year 
earUer in the production at the school of " Baldr's Death " 
and " Freyr's Wooing." The carol-party went into the school- 
room, and I read this short ballad. Then the parts of the 
king and his two sons and a " little wee page " were assigned 
to four of the Littlemen, and one of the ladies of the party 
undertook to try her hand as the lady of the castle " wherein 
the cup did lie." We soon had the players dressed very simply 
from our assortment of costumes ; giving merely a crown and 
a robe to the king, a tunic, cloak, sword, and coronet to each 
of the sons, a tunic and ruff to the page, and a robe to the lady. 

Then, to save time, instead of leaving the plot-construction 
for the boys to discuss, as would have been done in school, 

* This little stage only existed for one term while I was testing 
various effects of design and colour before fitting up the new Mummery 
at the school. It was not available for class lessons. 


I gave a rapid outline of the story as it might be adapted for 
the purpose of the play. The third stanza obviously requires 
amplification. I therefore suggested that the golden cup should 
be in the keeping of a lady. She lived in a castle and was a 
kind of magician. She had been instructed by her father 
JDcfore his death carefully to guard the cup, and only to yield 
it to that man whom she truly loved. The idea, of course, 
was an adaptation of Portia's caskets in " The Merchant of 
Venice." The lady was to fall in love with the younger son 
upon his arrival, and, after a scene which the players were left 
to invent when the time came, she was to give him the cup, and 
he was to take her for his queen when he had inherited his 
father's kmgdom. I suggested, further, that (instead of having 
the scene in the wood) the elder son should arrive just as the 
younger son was leaving his lady, and should spring from behind 
the curtain, stab his brother and make off with the golden 
cup. The younger son could either be quite dead or, better, 
simply wounded. In either case he would be restored by the 
magics of the lady ; and together they would return to the 
king's castle and expose the deceit of the elder brother, who 
by this time would be celebrating his achievement in a great 
banquet before the king and would, at the moment of their 
entrance, be on the point of drinking off a bumper of wine 
from the golden cup itself. 

The whole scheme of the plot was put before the players, 
and a few recommendations made in passing, in as brief a 
space of time as it has taken the reader to read this account 
of the plan. Then the fiddlers and the 'cellist, and the remaining 
Littlemen and the rest of us sat down in the dark at the other 
end of the room, and the mime began. 

The first scene of the king and his two sons proceeded 
straightforwardly. As soon as the quest of the golden cup 
had been stated by the king the younger soon took his leave. 
But the elder one stayed with his father and boasted of his 
better wit. The curtain was then closed, and the younger 
son at once cantered in before it, astride of a bamboo pole 
for his hobby-horse. He told us that he was now in quest 
of the golden cup, but was at a loss which way to take. He 
feared his brother might be first to find the cup. Presently 



he spied a castle in the distance, and spurred his horse in that 
direction. The third scene introduced us to the lady-magician, 
and showed her brewing, spells to attract errant knights. The 
lady should have referred to the golden cup and the conditions 
attaching to her possession of it.* But the lady-player had 
never mimed in her life before, and was indeed much to be 
complimented on filling a rdle at all, among such a proficient 
company of Littlemen. When the curtain closed again the 
elder brother galloped in on his piebald bamboo steed, and 
expressed an easy assurance of his chances of outwitting his 
silly little brother. 

The elder son wore about his head a brass circlet fitted 
in the front with three jewels, and the yoimger wore a similar 
circlet, but with one jewel only. Thus the two princes were 
easily able to refer to one another throughout the play by 
making the signs for " coronet of three stars " or "coronet 
of one star." No latent symbolism was intended in these 
signs. They simply arose from the fact that we found two 
such brass circlets in the store of costumes, and used them. 
The fifth scene was played on the inner stage, and again showed 
us the lady-magician in her castle chamber, with the golden 
cup on a pedestal close at hand. Soon the prince of the single 
star arrived. He dismounted in a comer outside the curtain. 

This detail is very interesting. The boy had it in mind 
to make his arrival at the castle the occasion of the traditional 
comic scene with the porter.f But the only thing he could do, 
on finding the curtain already opened, was to stand in the 
corner just outside the stage, in sight of the audience, but not 
in view of the lady and her page. Apparently the others had 
not expected this interpolation. In any case there was no 
porter available, and so the " little wee page " had to come 
forward and go through the business of inquiring who was there, 
and what he wanted. Having said this, the poor little page 
was at a loss how to proceed. For the whole play was unre- 
hearsed, and his own part in any case but a small one. The 

* Cf. " The Merchant of Venice," Act I, Scene 2 : the third speech 
of Portia and the third speech of Nerissa. 

t As in "Macbeth," Act II, " King Bstmere," " Young Bekie," " Thi 
Harrowing of Hell." and many another place in early literature. 


particular scene he was now called upon to enact had suddenly 
been sprung upon him by the zeal of a fellow who appeared 
out of nowhere on a bamboo horse, and insisted on being a 
prince at a castle gate, and nothing but a prince at a castle 
gate. The boy who was plajnng the little wee page was not 
of any great note as an actor, and his attitude throughout 
this scene (no word, of course, was spoken on either side) was 
a comic blend of the ineffectual desire to do something and a 
constant surreptitious miming to the other boy of, " What 
do you want me to do ? " The Prince of the Lone Star, on the 
other hand, was an actor of great genius, the perfect Littleman 
player ; and he took full advantage of the puzzle in which he 
had involved the other boy. The bewilderment of the porter- 
page exactly suited his purpose, and he treated him just as the 
gallants treat the witless clowns in the old comedies. And 
the more the porter-page endeavoured to carry off the situation 
by nodding and smiling, and the general " Quite so " tomfoolerj 
which comedians at a loss always use as a gag, the more de- 
finitely did the prince indicate his lordly and contemptuous 
baiting of the clown for the entertainment of the spectators. 
The perfect player had the whole company of us in his hands 
We laughed heartily. The only mistake was due to the lack 
of preparation in management, for this should have been 
arranged as a scene on the front stage. As it was, the whole 
business was conducted in a half-light, while the unfortunate 
lady in her chamber beyond was left all the time with nothing 
to do. Eventually the Prince of the Lone Star suffered the 
page to conduct him into the presence of the lady. Here 
again he took the whole scene into his own hands. Observing, 
(or, rather, making us believe that he observed) the apparatus 
of alchemy on every side, he affected to dread magic in all 
that occurred. When the lady offered him a horn of wine 
he smilingly accepted it, but secretly expressed a fear of being 
poisoned (Magics !— I drink— I dead— Not I !) and surreptitiously 
poured the wine away. While the lady made herself busy 
about some other matter in order to give him an opening, 
the little prince examined the drinking-horn, and kept the 
onlookers in a roar of laughter by his descriptions of the strange 
devil." and horned demons which he found graven upon the 



bands of metal. " Magics, magics everywhere," mimed the 
little Prince of the Lone Star. 

From time to time I explained a gesture for the benefit 
of the audience, most of whom had never seen a mime before. 
But except in a few cases, where our signs conventional appeared, 
the spectators assured me they were able to follow it all quite 
easily without interpretation. And why not ? For I, the 
interpreter, had myself never seen these particular gesture- 
expressions in use before. However strange all this may seem, 
however remotely connected with what is ordinarily regarded 
as educational method, I feel it to be important that the incidents 
of this out-of -school play should be described as they actually 
happened. Here was a room divided in two by a curtain 
now drawn open. On one side, in the dark, sat a group of 
men, women, and boys, and on the lighted side stood this boy 
of twelve in a green cloak and with a brass circlet on his head. 
In his hand was an imdecorated drinking-horn, and without 
using any words the boy, by his skill in the art of expressive 
gesture, was keeping the whole company of onlookers thoroughly 
interested and highly amused by his fearful discovery of totally 
imaginary demons pictured upon the drinking-horn. The more 
we laughed the more ready was the little prince to discover 
further shapes of sorcery. His crowning touch was the finding 
of a little grinning gargoyle at the very tip of the horn at the 
moment of the lady's re-entrance. At once he hushed his 
apprehensive soliloquy and became a model of courtesy, though 
wary still. 

The inexperience of the lady-player as a mimist and the 
backwardness of the boy-player because he did not quite know 
how to set about making love to her, rendered the rest of this 
scene rather weak as a stage in the story. In fact, I had to 
break silence at this point to give a spoken direction. But 
if the two had rehearsed together a few times, this scene would 
soon have become the best in the play, for the lady and the 
Littleman would not have been long in coming to intimate 
terms with one another. 

The rest of the mime requires no particular description. The 
elder brother, Prince of the Three Stars, after some peeping 
and skirmishing behind the curtains, made a dash into the 


chamber, smote his younger brother, seized the cup from his 
hands, and fled. The scene of the wonderful cure, wherein 
the lady, assisted by the page, brewed magic charms in a 
smoking cauldron, was played in a dim light and was quite 
effective. But, as there was little speech-gesture in it, this 
scene had no especial virtue as part of a mime. I told the 
players afterwards that a cinema could have done as much. 
For the rest, as time was now growing short, the players briefly 
followed the directions I had given at the start. The Prince 
of the Three Stars was exposed before the king, his father, 
just as he was about to drink off a bumper of wine from the 
golden cup. He was ignominiously banished ; and the Prince 
of the Lone Star and his magic lady were received as the rightful 
heirs to the kingdom. May they live happily ever after. 

The mime of the Golden Cup lasted fully three-quarters 
of an hour, with none of those London intervals between the 
scenes. Thus did the Littlemen spend the evening, after we 
had persuaded the lady director of the singing that it was 
too wet to go out on a round of carols. It was not by any 
means that we did not love to go trooping round the town and 
singing folk-carols by the light of swinging lanterns. But 
one has moods. 

In connexion with performances such as the one just des- 
cribed, the boys might be encouraged to make short ballads 
for miming. There are, unfortunately, no examples of the boys' 
work in this ; but the following verses which I made to fill a 
chap-book will perhaps afford some hints. There is, however, 
no plot in this. It is rather an exercise in simple stage design 
than a story. 


Mister came forth in a purple gown 

Before the green curtain, 
He bowed and told us some of his play> 

Then he went in again. 

There came two little beadles 

And drew the curtain back ; 
The stage was grey with purple hangings. 

And the walls dead black. 



The king came out in a crimson doak 

With a crown upon his head ; 
He called to him his little wee page 

To hearken what he said. 

The page he did him in a purple tunic, 

Bordered it was of gold ; 
Courteous he bowed and seemed right quick 

To do as the king him told. 

The king he bade bring a taper 

And a bowl of wine to drink ; 
And soon he called for a parchment 

And a pen and a horn of ink. 

And he wrote a proclamation 
To the folk of his meadow-land ; 

And ever the page in his gold and purple 
Stood fair at his right hand. 

The king he sipped of the bowl and thought. 

And anon he wrote a line, 
Tai the whole was writ and he put his sea 

And finished the bowl of wine. 

And the king he read it over, 

And nodded upon the scroll ; 
And the page blew out the taper 

And took up the empty bowl. 

And the king stood up in his crimson. 
And went forth out of the hall ; 

And the little page followed him after 
So the place was empty aU, 



Play out the Play. — Falstaff 

The chapters on the Acting of Shakespeare and on Miming 
the traditional ballads have sufficiently shown how young 
boys can be taught to appreciate literature in dramatic form. 
In connexion with those studies certain elements of play 
construction were mentioned, such as the alternation of scenes, 
the excellent craftsmanship of suiting the word to the action, 
and the necessity of making the plot self-explaniatory without 
adventitious aids. We are now to consider how the boys 
may put into practice what they have leamt, in the making 
of original plays. 

But in this chapter we must also consider the necessity 
of setting a high standard of literary workmanship. When the 
boys are acting Shakespeare all the poetry is waiting for them ; 
they have only to appreciate its worth and give due expression 
to it. But in playmaking the plot and the poetry and the 
acting have all to be fashioned by the boys themselves. It 
is therefore necessary for the master to set before them the 
very best material and models, and to keep their work up to a 
high standard of literary taste. 

Now as touching originality, it is, I think, a mistake to 
encourage boys to invent the story and characters for themselves. 
They will be too apt to lay the scene in the cellar of a London 
bank, or in a Wild West canon, or in the boarding-house of a 
public school ; and to choose for their protagonist a detective 
or a bushranger, or one of those caricatures of boyhood who 
strut and fret their hour in magazines written for schoolboys, 
and then are heard no more. This side of the boys' interests 
should not by any means be neglected in school-work. But 



we have always found place for the crude expression of this 
youthful taste in preliminary exercises, and in " asides " from 
the main business. In the oral exercises, for instance, with 
which our study of prose composition began — ^soliloquy, 
description, narrative, and dialogue — ^the boys were not only 
permitted but encouraged to choose subjects which had an 
immediate interest for them. There were at first no restrictions. 
The main piurpose was that the boys should exercise themselves 
in " oral composition " of some kind, until they should become 
ready speakers. Early practice was not hampered by an 
exacting literary taste ; nor was self-expression at first con- 
ditioned by the quest of " art forms." But after a time the 
boys came to feel the inadequacy and superficiality of 
their exercises based upon the commonplace. They were then 
easily persuaded to use craft in selection and condensation. 
They began with some feeling to say things with an artistic 
intention, and to express where before they had been content 
to describe. The soliloquy of a man in a dentist's chair, or 
the description of a crowded railway station, were all very 
well as furst exercises ; but these preliminaries were succeeded 
by prose studies which had the merit of style.* 

Similarly, in our miming experiments, after a few intro- 
ductory lessons under the master's direction the boys were 
allowed to practise in exercises of their own devising for a 
week or two. The feeble mimes of the Shoeing Forge and the 
Church Service have been mentioned, but there were many 
other bojdsh ventures of a similarly poor standard. But by 
following this natural course of gradual training we were able 
after p, while to mime a whole ballad story as a play. 

The same course should be followed in playmaking. Boys 
should not be plunged at once into the deeps of an expressive 
art without some preliminary paddling on the margin. A 
boy's desire to try his hand at some new thing without tiresome 
direction (vividly, if crudely, expressed in the words " Let's 
have a go I ") may be allowed free play before sober and studious 
business is put under way. Football, a game played in obedience 
to strict rule, never begins without a free and easy kicking 

* For examples, and an account of a full course of lessons in prose 
composition by the play-method, see Perse Playbooks, No. 4. 


of the ball about the field. Cricket, a game of skill and precision, 
generally has a prelude of bat-swinging and the exchange of 
catches. And, if you have ever leamt to skate, I am sure 
you were not content for long to dodder about hand-in-hand 
with your instructor. " Let's have a go ! " is the right spirit 
in which to undertake any enterprise of play.* It is far more 
healthy for the beginner that he learn his earliest adjustments 
of balance empirically at the risk of (and better still at the 
cost of) a few real sprawls upon the hard ice, than that he 

* I have noticed a very interesting example of this boyish desire to 
make free play with a new instrument, in connexion with languages 
taught on the Direct Method. The seniors who have attained a feir 
mastery in French or Latin or Greek will speak in these languages only 
of set intention, and to one who xmderstands them. But the Littlemen, 
when they first begin to learn Latin, love to come out with the odd words 
and phrases they have learnt, whenever they are excited, in the playground 
or at tea parties. But these boys do not confine their exuberant exercise 
to words and phrases which they have learnt thoroughly and can repeat 
correctly. They wUl venture random utterance in long sentences com- 
posed of the most ungrammatical jargon, which sometimes resembles 
Latin, sometimes EngUsh ; and they will often tack Latin endings on to 
English words when their Latin vocabulary fails them. This gibberish 
is painful to hear, and, for no better reason, I have always discouraged 

The existence of this jargon has probably no real signifteance for a 
language teacher. Inventiveness wUl hinder and not help language 
study. He may rejoice that the new language is such a Uve one for 
the boys that they struggle to speak it even before their knowledge is 
sufficient ; but his clear duty is to go straight ahead with his teaching 
until they can speak correctly. But in connexion with plajnnaking 
and other forms of self-expression in which inventiveness is required, this 
stage of the boys' interest is of great significance. The parallel to this 
shockingly ungrammatical jargon is, in prose composition, a piece of lurid 
description ; in speech-making it is a turgid oration ; in miming it is 
wild inarticulate gesticulation ; in playmaking it is a disordered and 
chaotic performance, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing in 
any artistic sense. The language teacher must directly discountenance, 
or at least ignore, these crude initial efforts and experimentations, 
because his subject requires precision, accuracy, learning. The play- 
master, on the other hand, may encourage these crude manifestations 
of delight in a new instrument, and should even take them into his 
account and build upon them ; for his concern is inventiveness, conceit, 
and flights of fancy. This is, I submit, a matter which concerns all 
teachers of boys. 



sit secure and idle, and admire the evolutions of his skilled 

After a series of preliminary exercises, a few free kicks, 
a few nasty sprawls, the pupil returns to his master — ^ready 
now for the instruction to begin. But not, I hope, at all 
apologetic for having adventured on his own account, tried his 
hand at the new instrument — ^had, in fact, his " go." For it 
would be a grave mistake for a teacher (in the arts at all events) 
to fancy that the pupil's venture had only served to convince 
him of the supreme necessity of reliance upon his instructor. 
The pupil has certainly found the need of a teacher, but he 
has also discovered many another thing of value. He has 
discovered not only difficulties but potentialities, not only 
the need of instruction but a consuming desire for it. 

The boyish craving for exciting adventure, undirected, is 
content with cheap sensational stories such as those connected 
with crude horrors and mysteries and what is called " raw " 
crime. But, discreetly guided, it finds equal stimulus, and 
eventually a fuller enjoyment, in good literatiu:e. But in 
introducing the boys to those things which are of highest 
worth, the master must still cater for their interests. Herein 
lies the virtue of the master's method and selection. He must 
see that hmiger is not dulled, but rendered obedient to taste ; 
zeal to judgment. 

In the present disordered and ill-managed state of education 
a boy may satisfy his crude desire for novelty and sensation in 
the reading of books which have no spark of literary value, and 
in the shows at the cinema which are equally destitute of all 
dramatic or artistic taste. He may seek f tm and the satisfaction 
of his sense of humour in the unspeakable halfpenny comics, 
or in sheer brainless tomfoolery with his fellows. School 
gives but little guidance to his amusements. During lesson- 
time his serious-minded teachers stolidly read with him some 
of the masterpieces of classical literature (which at last is 
recognized as including something outside the sacred pale of 
Greek and Latin). They pass all too cursorily over what 
is easy to understand ; all that might, without any loss to the 
dignity of learning, serve for the ready satisfaction of the 
play-instinct ; but they insist upon a careful and often prolonged 

Gerda and Skirnir 

|See p. 3;K 

' Thus they renisht them to ride 
Of two sood reuisht steeds 

[See p LiSi 


study of all passages which present any natural difficulty, 
or which can, by any device of pedantry, be made to yield 
artificial difficulties. * All the fun is out of school, unrecognized 
and uncontrolled. All the study is in school, an overearnest 
matter, unrelieved and unsympathetic. 

Owing to this blindness of our educators the gap is ever 
widening between work and play, and each loses more and more 
of what the other held of value to it. Amusements, on the 
one hand, become daily less and less intelligent, and on the 
other, so far as school is concerned, the pleasure of duty is 
much diminished. 

The Play Way, while giving scope to the natural interests 
of the boys, insists upon a good standard of literature in their 
playmaking. And, after the preliminary exercises have run 
their course, the deeds of detectives and bushrangers, and 
the goings-on of bulUes and fags will not pass muster as material 
for drama. It would take the length of this whole chapter 
to give in full the critical reasons why such persons and their 
settings are not conducive to good plajrmaking — but we have 
reason good enough. Here it will be sufficient to point out 
that the incidents of everyday life, before they can become 
fit stuff for drama, have to undergo a process of refinement 
or sifting, and it is too much to expect this work of young 
boys. And so long as the world is full of tales already in fair 
shape as material for playmaking it is quite unnecessary for 
boys to sift their daily experience for the subject-matter of 

To make a drama out of a tale of adventure in modern 
times, or the school-life of everyday, is an exercise in realism ; 
and a conscious pursuit of realism is inadvisable for boys : 
(i) Because it is frankly beyond their powers, since realism 
implies a representation of things as they are, and boys have 
not experience enough to go beyond impressions and appear- 
ances ; (ii) because it would be outside the scope of our 
educational purpose, since true realism implies a certain 
sacrifice of conventions and the avoidance of types of character 
and situation, while our purpose as teachers is to ensure that 

* Compare, for instance, our treatment of a play of Shakespeare with 
that implied by any examination paper ever set. 



by the exercise of playmaking the boys shall become familiar 
with these very artistic conventions, and with the dramatic 
situations and characters which have become typical from 
their frequent occurrence in the literature we are taking as 
our model ; and (iii) the pursuit of realism by boys is inadvisable 
because it implies the abandonment of that tower of their 
artistic strength, the ready comprehension of a romantic theme, 
and a fitly imaginative treatment of it. 

The plays of boys should be romances, and the style should 
be poetic* 

For these reasons, then, the boys (when an important play 
is afoot) should not be encouraged to take for their material 
any themes which are not essentially romantic. It remains 
for them, then, either to invent a brand-new romantic story 
or to borrow one. But the experiment of inventing your plot 
is so difficult and attended with so much risk of disaster that 
it is wiser to follow the example of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare. 
Milton, and all our other great poets, and found your story 
upon the firm rock of some traditional tale. The man is to 
be pitied who hopes to put forth new fruits without having 
his roots firm set in the soil from which all other fruits have 

The boys, having borrowed their story, may take what they 
have need of, and set aside the rest. They may add, divide, and 
multiply. But they must start by borrowing. The creative 
skill of the stealers and their choice in theft are the test of 
their Promethean virtue. 

In taking an existing tale as the story of their play the 
boys will find that they have in hand a core of substance. 
Persons and events exist already ; characterization and plot, 
those twin deities of the drama, have been wed together in 
the tale for perhaps five hundred, perhaps two thousand years ; 
and in making their play, with what additions and modifications 
soever, the boys are but making one more version of a tale 
that has outlived, or rather lived through, a thousand versions. 

* The word " lomance ' is used here in the sense of an imaginative 
or fanciful story, as opposed to the faithful representation of real ex- 
perience. To say that the style must be poetic does not mean that the 
parts must always be written in verse 


The tale has been bandied about until nothing but the essentials 
(and perhaps a few of the latest accretions) remain. On the 
other hand, a new plot, conceived yesterday, and thrown down 
to-day into the ring to be wrought upon by a group of urgent 
playmakers, each anxious to have his say, each eager to insist 
upon this modification or that, will be knocked to pieces in 
an hour or two. It has no essential being, no core. 

The sources of tales fit for playmaking are inexhaustible, 
for we have all the treasury of mythology and all the fairy 
tales and folk legends to draw upon. The teacher's taste, 
knowledge, and experience are naturally of great weight in the 
selection ; and a group of boys under one master will show a 
preference for a certain type of story which the pupils of 
another master will find quite foreign to their taste. A man 
gifted with an appreciation of Hindu mythology could easily 
engage the interest of his boys in the exploits of Krishna and 
tales from the Mahabharata. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, 
also, would make a great morality play. But, since the making 
of a play demands the close and careful work of the boys for a 
considerable length of time, it is wiser to associate the subject 
with some of their regular school studies, in Greek, Latin, 
JBYench, or English literature, and in history. 

A play should be in hand for at least a term, and it will 
do nothing but good to keep it building throughout the school 
year. The historical period in which the play is set is of 
importance in a hundred ways. It may either be determined by 
the courses of history and literature going on at the time ; or, 
if it is done on a large enough scale, and time can be found 
for good reading in many books, the plajmaaking circle might 
include in itself the study of the history and literature of 
the period. The reader can expand this suggestion for himself. 
Consider a playmaking circle of history and literature, to last 
a year's course, centring in King Alfred and bringing in a 
reading of Old English literature in poetry, and of history in the 
Chronicles. No English boy should spend ten years of learning 
in an English school without at least making the acquaintance 
of the following: Widsith, Deor's Lament, Caedmon, The 
Phoenix, The Charms, The Seafarer, The Battle of Brunaburh, 
The Battle of Maldon, Cynewulf and Cyneheard, The Voyage 

s 273 


of Ohthere, and, above all, Beowulf.* Another playmaking 
circle for a year's course might centre in John of Gaunt or in 
Wat Tyler ; and, while the history lessons dealt with the 
Peasant's Revolt, the literature lessons would include selections 
from Piers the Plowman and from Chaucer, and the whole 
of Shakespeare's " Richard II." Cromwell is the centre of 
another playmaking circle, but it would take a whole chapter 
of this book even to indicate the scope and design of such a 
great argument. 

Then again the boys might be given each a book of North's 
" Plutarch " as material, and allowed to choose their communal 
path therein for a year of weekly lessons. There is a fine 
nobility about that book ; life, letters, and learning on every 
page of it. 

All teachers of history intend to, and some actually do, 
read the English literature of the period under study. And 
the same is true of literature teachers in relation to history. 
Lack of time is always the difficulty. We mtist have more 
time for teaching English history and English literature, imless 
this nation intends to remain satisfied, as it is at present, that 
its sons should have a mere smattering of education ; knowing 
little more than the names of the greatest men of our people, 
and not even the names of some of the greatest books in our 
literature. Playmaking is a helpful device by which the study 
of history and of literature can be brought together and under- 
stood in a live relation. 

The stories of the Greek gods and heroes are beyond 
compare for beauty of conception and grace of treatment, 
but I cannot think of them as material for playmaking in 
the schools of to-day. But other teachers, especially those 
with a thorough knowledge of Greek literature, and some 
sympathetic understanding of Greek life and art, might not 
think the experiment too rash, provided that the boys and 
the master earnestly set themselves to make their play as 
Greek in character as possible. But the undertaking 
involves many grave difficulties. At the outset you are faced 

♦ At present teachers must do the best they can with translations. 
But it is not too much to hope that Old English will some day be taught 
in schools, at all events to specialists in upper forms. 


•with a dilemma : Will you attempt to cast your play in the 
conventional classic form of the Greek drama, or will you 
attempt to create some less rigid and exacting form which shall 
be equally appropriate as a representation of the theme ? 
For my part I would not dare venture either alternative. The 
only way out is to present certain elements of the Greek 
mythology in pastoral form. But the pastoral is not a form 
suitable for stage representation ; and the pastoral is not the 
kind of play we are now considering. Another difficulty is the 
music. But the greatest difficulty of all is the carriage and 
bearing of the players themselves. Adequately to present before 
the eyes of men a living show of some story which embodies a 
Greek conception of beauty requires in the performers some 
approximation to the Hellenic ideal of physical perfection. 
And what scope or encouragement is there for the most sensible 
and energetic of playmasters, in a modern public school, to train 
his boys in that true gymnastic which makes for grace as well 
as strength of limb, and for rhythm as well as speed of movement? 

It is true that the heroes of the Bible stories and the gods 
of the Norse mythology also demand a nobility of bearing 
in a stage representation- but these are figures of strength 
and grandeur rather than of idyllic grace, and we have not 
their sculptured beauty in marble to shame us by a comparison 
with our puny modem standard of address and carriage. A 
teacher who has any real sense of what art means in connexion 
with his work, before undertaking the production, in a modem 
school, of a show with anything of the Greek about it, will, 
at the very least, go and study the Panathenaic procession in 
the British Museum. Having looked upon the figures of Apollo 
and of Eros, having marked (as did the unlearned John Keats) 
the mysterious priest leading that heifer lowing at the skies ; 
having but once seen the very folds of the drapery as worn by 
the maidens, or the mien and bearing of the youths who renish 
them to ride, he will go home a wiser and a very much sadder 
man and abandon his ambitious enterprise. 

There sits the youth of England at its education ; row 
upon row of magnificent boys, imprisoned in the stocks, and 
clad in ridiculous trousers and knickerbockers. Look at the 
lads in their Eton collars and their jackets and waistcoats 



William Morris complained of having to wear two coats ; one 
with a back and no front, and another with a front and no back^ 
These are insane garments, which a due care for health and free 
movement would not allow, and which the faintest glimmer of a 
sense of beauty in clothes could not tolerate for a moment. 
Look also, I beg you, at the feet of the Littlemen ; those feet 
which you as a teacher have so often had to call to order. 
The boots alone of a group of modem schoolboys are enough to 
render impossible the school production of any play which 
claims kinship with the Greek. But, as Sir Toby says in 
" Twelfth Night," " These clothes are good enough to drink in, 
and so be these boots too " ; and no doubt knickerbocker 
suits and Eton trousers and ploughboy boots are a good enough 
apparel in which to walk about stone passages and gravel 
yards, or to sit at a desk and imbibe the grammar of ancient 

The Bible has always been one of the great sources of 
inspiration in English literature ; and many of the stories in 
the Old Testament make excellent material for playmaking. 
In the style of the Bible narrative the boys would have before 
them the very purest and most beautiful of English prose, 
But the problem of style in the boys' work shall be discussed 
later. Let us look first at some available stories. 

The story of Jacob and Esau could be wrought into drama, but 
it would probably require more condensing than inexperienced 
hands could compass. The life-story of Joseph is epic rather 
than dramatic. David's history is also of an epic character ; 
but if certain episodes, and especially those in relation with 
Saul, be chosen out and presented consecutively, there is as good 
matter for an heroic play here as can be found anywhere. But 
it would be far better, I think, to make Saul the central figure, 
and the play a tragedy. The tale of Samson, again, after 
some adaptation, would provide a good story for the boys to 
dramatize. The story of Rahab and the Spies is another 
suitable one. But all stories require adaptation to fit them for 
stage presentation. I^et us first examine the story of Rahab 
and the Spies, because it is the shortest of these, and see how 
it can be turned into a play. 

Joshua sends out two spies to view the land of Jericho; 


but they are hardly come to their lodging in the house of 
Rahab before the King of Jericho sends to look for them. Rahab 
tells the messengers that the men went out about the 
time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark; but she 
had brought them up to the roof of her house and hid them 
with the stalks of flax. The messengers go out in pursuit as 
far as the fords of Jordan ; the town gate is shut after them, 
and the woman goes to talk with the men on the roof. Her 
account of the terror which had fallen upon the men of Jericho 
because of the Israelites makes a wonderful speech as it stands. 
In return for her kindness the spies promise to deal kindly and 
truly with her, if she will not utter their business, and to save 
the lives of all in her father's house. They give her the true 
token she asks. She binds the scarlet line in the window,* 
lets them down over the town wall by a cord, and bids them 
get to the mountain to avoid their pursuers. The spies go into 
hiding, and eventually return to Joshua. 

That is the substance of the first act. The boys may now 
discuss how the incidents shall be staged, f and into how many 
scenes the act shall be divided. Two scenes only are essential. 
The first wiU be on the front, or outer stage (i.e. traverse closed), 
the second on the back, or whole stage (i.e. traverse open). Here 
is a stage version such as I would propose for myself, or the 
boys working with me. 

Scene 1, (Outer.) The two spies come in, and make clear 
where they are, who they are, and what they have to do. J 

* A touch of the concrete which adds considerably to the life of the 

t For the plots sketched in this chapter I have had in mind the Eliza- 
bethan playhouse stage, because that is the plan which in my opinion 
is the best fitted for plays of this character. There is no need for the 
reader to call into his mind an exact model of the Globe Theatre. All 
this chapter requires is a picture in the reader's mind of a very large 
platform in front with doors on either side, but no front curtain. At 
the back is a smaUer inner stage, shut off by a traverse consisting of two 
curtains which can be drawn together or apart from the side. 

% According to the Bible story the spies learn only of the faint-hearted- 
ness of the men of Jericho, and that is all they report to Joshua. If 
they have " come to search out all the country," as the King believes, 
they must nevertheless have been satisfied with Rahab's account of the 
state of terror which the Israelites had inspired. " Our hearts did melt, 



They must give the onlookers to understand that a certain 
captain, by name Joshua, has sent them as spies of Israel to 
this walled city, by name Jericho. The exposition of these 
matters will of course need some wrapping up. Exposition 
must not be given as a bald announcement. But all extraneous 
matter must be rigidly excluded here because the essentials, 
are quite enough to handle in the opening passage, and the 
audience desires at this point nothing but a clear understanding 
of what is afoot. As soon as we are all quite sure who these 
two persons are, and what they are about, they may discover 
their lodging, but not before. At their summons Rahab comes 
out between the ciui;ains of the traverse. They arrange to 
lodge in her house, and all go in together. At once the 
messengers sent from! the King come in (still on the front stage), 
and after having made clear in their talk who they are, whence 
they came, and what they are about, they call for the warden 
of the gates. (Surely we have met this man before. AU good 
porters when they die go into drama.) The King's messengers 
complain that, although it is dark, the gates are not yet shut. 
The porter has of course been asleep ; or, better still, he has 
been having a bit of a sup with an old friend who has come 
from the other side of Jordan with a great tale of what those 
men of Israel did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites. 
The King's messengers* have no concern with all this. Their 
business is to bully the porter for his not having shut the gates, 
for his not having observed the particular men they are in 
quest of, and for his general stupidity. But for all his apparent 
stupidity in the play this porter fellow, in repeating again and 
again the story of his friend from the other side of Jordan, may 
contrive to tell the audience all they need know about the men 
of Jericho and their fear of the Israelites. The audience will 
find this clown very entertaining, and the plajrwright will find 
him all but indispensable ; but the critics of your play will be 

neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you." 
They would add little to their knowledge during their three days spent 
subsequently in the mountain. 

* For models of King's messengers you have Rosencrantz and 
Guildenstern, and also Osric, in " Hamlet," Le Beau in " As You Like 
It," and several others. 


" inclined to feel that the episode of the porter and his tedious 
reiterations constitute an unwarrantable intrusion and interfere 
with the continuity of the " — etc. etc. 

But there is yet more service to be had of this porter. The 
story tells that the King actually sent to Rahab's house 
for the spies. It will add to the interest, and save the intro- 
duction of another character, if we let the porter eventually 
admit that he did see two such men come into the city, and 
that they went into the house of Rahab, hard by here upon 
the wall. He would not state this important fact earlier 
because he was anxious to tell the tale (and a far more important 
tale it is for the audience) of what the Israelites did to Sihon 
and Og, the two kings of the Amorites, The King's messengers 
then call at the house. Rahab comes out and, in reply to the 
officious inquiries of the messengers, says that two men had 
been in her house, but she does not know whence they came 
nor whither they went ; but they cannot have gone far, for 
they only went out at dusk. She sends the messengers in piu-suit, 
away to the fords of Jordan. The porter has a final chat with 
Rahab about what the Israelites did to Sihon and Og, the two 
kings of the Amorites, and then he shuts the gate. The town 
gate must of course be off stage, for the central opening in the 
traverse curtain represents the door of Rahab's house. Rahab 
goes in, and the porter goes oft at the side. He makes a grinding 
and a clanking noise with bolts and chains. This ends the 
first scene. 

Before sketching the plan of Scene 2, 1 will show the technical 
significance of this new character, the porter, who does not 
appear in the Bible narrative. The playboys must be taught : 
(i) That the porter was originally introduced because some one 
had to direct the King's messengers, and he was the most likely 
person to have seen the spies come in. (ii) That he is suggested 
by the mention of the town gates in the story. To ignore 
the town gates would be an undoubted loss to the play. The 
creation of a porter arising out of a simple mention of gates 
will show the boys how to dramatize intelligently, and how to 
look always to the story for what they require, (iii) That, 
being in, he can be used to let the audience know what Jericho 
feels about Israel. This is most important, since it is the sole 



information which the spies obtain. Certainly Rahab later on 
tells them clearly of the terror and faintness which possess the 
men of Jericho, but as her speech with them i* chiefly concerned 
with an appeal for the safety of her own family, it is well that 
the general feeling of Jericho should have been made dear 
beforehand. The porter does this for the audience in his tale 
of what the Israelites did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the 
Amorites. We have heard what Israel feels about Jericho 
from the opening words of the spies, (iv) That in any case 
there must be some delay between the going in of the spies 
and the calling of the Kings' messengers at the house of Rahab. 
The action must not rush on from point to point. There must 
be no crowding, (v) That necessary delays of this kind in the 
action must not be filled with padding, but used in the early 
stages of the play for explaining what needs to be explained, 
and in the later stages of the play for developing what needs to 
be developed, (vi) Finally, the boys can be shown how it is 
that a character comes to life. This porter is an excellent 
illustration, for he had no existence at all in the Bible story. 
The needs of playmaking occasioned his creation. He was 
originally introduced as a mere technical necessity, but has 
somehow got him a being of his own. We seem to know him 
already as a living man. Of all the six persons introduced io 
this act he is so far the most real. 

Scene 2. {Inner.) There is no break at all between the 
scenes. The traverse is drawn apart, and the action goes straight 
on. Rahab is now seen talking to the two spies on the inner 
stage, which is laid with stalks of flax and represents the roof 
of her house. There must be some kind of window at the 
back for the men to be let down by. All the talk between 
the woman and the spies is given in the Bible story, and cannot 
be bettered. When persons in a play make a compact, or give 
directions to one another, it is well for the matters at issue 
to be said clearly more than once, for the sake of the audience. 
The repetition will be found ready to your hand in this Bible 
story. Part of the conference is held upon the roof, and 
then the men are let down.* Reassurances are exchanged after 

* Although they had been hidden on the roof they escaped through a 
window. This was probably the window of a room to which they descended 


the men are out of sight. Rahab's leaning out of the window 
to speak with them in a loud whisper will admirably suggest 
the height of the town wall upon which her house is built, the 
darkness of the scene, and the secrecy of the whole business. 
After they go away the woman binds the scarlet line in the 
window. She does this at once, and will not put it oft until 
the morrow. Perhaps the spies will not go to the mountain 
after all, but return straightway to their captain, and the 
host of Israel may be before the walls of Jericho by dawn. 
This is improbable in fact, but not in drama. At all events, 
the story tells that Rahab bound the scarlet line in the window ; 
and no playwright with any eye for effect would depart from 
his original in this particular. While Rahab is thus occupied 
the traverse closes, and this is the end of the first act.* 

This descent from the window of a house built upon the 
town wall could have been represented far better on the stage 
of a real Elizabethan playhouse. For there was an upper stage, 
a kind of balcony that ran along over the top of the traverse. 
In the sight of the audience Rahab would let the spies down by 
a cord. They would alight upon the front stage, speak with 
her from there, and then go off at one side. 

If the second act of this story were as simple to stage as 
the first has been, the reader might be spared another detailed 
demonstration. But it happens that the rest of the story 
as it stands is by no means in shape for straightforward staging ; 
and so it would be a shirking to pass it over. 

In the first place, we have not yet got our spies back to 
Joshua, but have left them hiding in the mountain. If you 
call upon the imagination of your audience to work with you, 
and to see in fancy what you do not show, you must satisfy 
their imagination, and not leave it in the lurch like this. 
The audience in fancy has obediently followed our spies to 
their hiding in the hills ; and there the men must remain 
later. It doesn't matter for the play, so long as the back stage (which 
represents the roof) has a window at the back. 

* I have not had space to quote the Bible story ; but this accoimt 
is written with the confident expectation that the interested reader will 
turn to the second chapter of the Book of Joshua and compare my sug- 
gested staging with the original Bible story — ^more especially for the 
Bake of the speeches. 



until the plajrwxight gives further directions. It would be 
best, I think, to add a short third scene to our first act, showing 
the return of the spies to Joshua, and their telling him of all 
that had befallen them. This plan would follow in detail the 
Bible narrative, for the chapter is divided into three sections 
which exactly correspond with the three scenes I have suggested. 

In the Book of Joshua nearly four chapters intervene 
before we come again to Rahab. What are the playboys to do 
about all the incidents related in those four chapters ? Clearly 
they must select those incidents which have bearing upon 
their chosen story and set aside the rest. The passing of 
Jordan is too great a matter to be set aside. Yet we caimot 
show the host of Israel going over the river-bed. 

What then ? Let us again look for help to the story. 

Twelve men may come upon the stage each bearing a large 
stone upon his shoulder, " And those twelve stones which 
they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And 
he spake imto the children of Israel, saying, ' When your 
children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying. What 
mean these stones ? Then ye shall let your children know, 
saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.' " If the 
olay is to be presented on a roomy stage, and if plenty of 
actors are available, this scene could open with the coming 
in of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the 
people. Then would come the twelve men bearing each a 
stone upon his shoulder ; then a company of armed men with 
Joshua ; and then a few women and children to represent 
the rest of the people. Joshua's words at the setting up of 
the stones would clearly explain all that had just occurred 
at the Jordan. The fruit of the land of Canaan might also 
be brought in to show that the manna had ceased. The scene 
treated in this way would make an impressive spectacle. 
Such forms of representation belong to pageantry rather than 
to drama. But if they are not shown in this way these events 
cannot be shown at all, and in that case we might just as well 
have ended our play when the spies left the house of Rahab. 

If it is possible to have a procession of at least thirty persons 
then the stage representation of the capture of Jericho is easy. 
For, look you. the capture of Jericho was effected solelv by 


means of a procession which compassed the city. It will be 
necessary to have at least thirty persons, because seven are 
required for the trumpets, about six for the ark ; and this with 
Joshua and ten men of arms (which is a modest requirement) 
leaves you only six persons to come in as the rereward. 

The Elizabethan playhouse was admirably adapted for shows 
of this kind. The traverse remained shut, and their processions 
marched across the front stage, in on one side and out at the 
other. In the case of sieges the attacking force was gathered 
on the front stage and the citizens appeared in a row upon the 
balcony, which represented their town wall.* Modern stages 
never have this balcony. But something as like to it as possible 
must be contrived, for you cannot do the capture of Jericho 
properly without showing the citizens upon the wall, looking 
on in awe and faintness at the solemn daily procession of the 
Israelites. And do not forget the trumpets. The word 
" trumpets " occurs no fewer than fourteen times in the sixth 
chapter of the Book of Joshua, yet a modern producer would, 
as likely as not, have his Jericho captured to the gentle accom- 
paniment of a string band. 

The second act of Rahab and the Spies, then, might be 
planned in the following way : 

Scene 1. (Outer.) The King's messengers, who have now 
in their turn been sent out to spy upon the enemy, report 
to the King that the host of Israel is removed from Shittim, 
and is come to the banks of Jordan and lodged there. The 
King fears that the Lord will dry up the waters of Jordan to 
give passage to the men of Israel, as he did at the Red Sea, 
which he dried up from before them, until they were gone 
over. Accordingly he commands that the city be shut up. 
He then goes away, and the messengers call out our old friend 
the porter. " Now Jericho was straitly shut up because 
of the children of Israel : none went out, and none came in." 
But the King and the porter and the messengers go up on the 
wall (thus running straight on into Scene 2), and they look 
out in the direction of the fords of Jordan. They are waiting 
for the Israelites to come. The King and his two messengers 

* Cf. " Henry V," Act III, Scene 2, " Richard II," Act IV, Scene 3 ; 
" King John," Act II. 



go down from tne wall to make preparation in the city. Other 
townsfolk now join the porter on the wall — ^Rahab and her 
father and mother and friends, and they all look out fearftdly 
in the direction of the fords of Jordan. 

We might let those on the wall see the amazing sight of 
a host of people afar off marching through the river-bed, and 
then send hurriedly to tell the King. Jericho is near enough 
to Jordan for this to be plausible. In any case the story says 
that "the people passed over right against Jericho." By 
this well-known stage device, of describing an action supposed 
to be taking place out of view, we can stimulate the audience 
to imagine what we cannot show. Now Rahab anxiously 
bids her parents and friends to come at once into her house. 

Scene 3. {Whole stage.) For this scene a curtain must 
be drawn across the balcony to hide the town wall of Jericho. 
Now there comes in on the front stage the procession of Israel. 
This is not the procession with trumpets which is to compass 
the city, but the procession just come over Jordan, of priests, 
men of arms, and the twelve men bearing each a stone upon 
his shoulder before the people. The traverse must be open 
for this scene, because Joshua will command his men to build 
a cairn or altar with the stones, and they must do this on the 
inner stage where the curtain may be drawn to conceal it at 
the end of the scene. If they were to set up their caim on 
the front stage, they would have to unbuild it again after and 
take it away, and that would be a foolish thing. The audience 
now hears all the story of the crossing of Jordan in the words 
spoken by Joshua to the people. After the ceremony of 
dedication Joshua and the priests come out again on to the 
front stage. The traverse at once closes ; and while the 
Israelites are going off, some one behind the curtain makes away 
with the stones and sets a table and a chair or two on the back 

While Joshua is watching his people depart, there appears 
in the traverse opening, from the spot where he had just 
dedicated an altar, a man with his sword drawn in his hand. 
" And Joshua went unto him, and said xmto him, ' Art thou for 
us or for our adversaries ? ' And he said, ' Nay ; but as captain 
of the host of the Lord am I now come.' " 


Scene 4. (Inner). The traverse opens again as soon as 
the Israelites and Joshua have gone, and Rahab comes in on 
the back stage with her parents and the friends she has chosen 
to save. She tells them the story of the spies and of their 
promise to her. Rahab is confident of their good faith, but 
the whole company is distressed, and full of anxiety for the 
city. There is room for a little character-study in one of the 
relatives of Rahab. 

Scene 5. (Outer.) The traverse is closed and the balcony 
curtain drawn back. This gives us the walls of Jericho again. 
All the available townsfolk, with the exception of course of 
Rahab and her company, appear upon the walls. This should 
be the seventh day, and the people are speaking about the awe- 
inspiring procession they have seen go once round the city 
every day for six days past. They are terrified because they 
do not understand. And now on this day the procession has 
already passed about the city fom- times, and still the men of 
Israel march with the seven priests blowing seven trumpets of 
rams' horns,, and with the ark borne before the people and all 
the men of war. This the townsfolk of Jericho tell one another. 
Then the procession passes over the front stage. After it 
has gone we hear again the anxious talk of the townsfolk. 
Then the procession passes once more. There is another 
interval filled with the talk of the townsfolk on the wall. Thus 
when the Israelites enter for the third time, their seven times 
compassing of the city will have been completed. Then the 
priests make a long blast with the ram's horn, and Joshua 
cries, " Shout ; for the Lord hath given you the city," and 
all the people shout with a great shout. 

In the story "the wall fell down flat." What shall be 
done about this ? For my part I think it will be enough to 
close the balcony curtain suddenly at the moment of the shout ; 
and then, after the making of a great noise — a noise of crashing 
and banging and falling things, the men of Jericho fight hand 
to hand on the front stage with the men of Israel, rushing 
in on both sides. Alarums and excursions follow, with the 
clash of sword-play and much stir and din. Joshua's voice 
is heard above the confusion urging his men to " destroy 
utterly all that was in the city both man and woman, young and 



old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword." 
The Bible says, " But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of 
brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord : they shall come 
into the treasury of the Lord." And so while the men of 
arms are fighting, the priests, I think, might busy themselves 
in carrying off the treasure. Vessels of silver and gold, and 
pots, pans, and other furniture are borne away. Men are 
slain or driven to flight. Then Joshua calls to the spies and 
sends them to bring out Rahab. The traverse opens and 
the company is foimd within, cowering in terror^ Now the 
noise of the conflict dies down, and while Joshua and the two 
spies are in talk with Rahab and her grateful friends on the 
back stage, the men of Israel in front bear away the bodies 
of the dead. A child runs in and picks up a sword that was 
left. When Joshua has finished his comfortable words to 
Rahab the traverse closes, and the play is done. Some 
playmakers might prefer to end with the adjuration of Joshua 
to his people, " Cursed be the man before the Lord that riseth 
up and buildeth this city Jericho." But that would mean 
the coming together again of all the Israelites after the fight. 
<I!ertainly Shakespeare ends " Macbeth " in this manner ; 
but there they have a new king to acclaim. The victors in 
our play are still sacking and burning the city. 

A quiet coming to an end in a play is a refreshing contrast 
to the sensational finale, which has grown ever more into 
favour as the traverse crept gradually forward (eating up 
action) until it became the front curtain. Several writers have 
pointed out that more dramatic skill is needed on the Elizabethan 
type of stage than on the modem. This is especially true of 
the closing scenes of acts. The modem playwright can work 
up the action to a pitch of excitement from which he could not 
possibly come off without disaster ; but at the very height of 
the climax he drops the curtain. This may be fine shovravanship, 
but it is very poor art. If you have no front curtain thus to 
cloak your shortcomings you must play the thing out to the 
«nd. When an angry man bursts in upon two others who have 
been deceiving him, it is not enough for him to say " So ! " or 
" Ha, ha ! " and wait for the stage-manager to " draw a veil 
over this painful scene." The minutes subsequently wasted by 



the actors in a fatuous bowing to the audience, while the curtain 
soars up and down, should have been spent in delivering the 
speech of the angry man. But our modern playwrights find 
themselves unable to get over the top of a climax and come 
down quietly on the other side. The drop-scene covers a 
multitude of deficiencies. 

The stage-play of two other Bible stories containing battles 
may be given in outline; the stories of Deborah and of 
Gideon. In the space of the first short tale we find three such 
elements of poetic drama as the battle of the river Kishon, 
the death of Sisera, and the song of Deborah. The whole 
story is told in one chapter ; the song is in another.* The 
first chapter falls into three main divisions. 

Scene 1. Deborah under the palm-tree hears the complaint 
of Israel, and summon Barak, to confer with him. 

Scene 2. The Battle. 

Scene 3. Jael kills Sisera. 

The killing of Sisera should be done according to the con- 
vention of the Greek drama. The closed traverse represents 
Jael's tent. Sisera is persuaded to go in ; and Jael takes in, 
first, milk for him to drink, and then a rug to cover him. He 
bids her watch. She comes out, speaks a short space, then 
takes a nail of the tent and a hammer and goes in softly. Now 
Barak comes in on the front stage and speaks alone. Presently 
Jael comes out with only the hammer, and tells Barak what 
she has done. 

This third scene has given the fighting men an opportunity 
to collect themselves. For the second act the whole company 
marches in. They are headed by Deborah and Barak chanting 
antiphonally the glorious song. 

The story of Gideonf makes a much longer play. So long 
in fact that here I can but sketch the plan of a part of it in 
outline. Part of the story can well be divided into three acts. 
But that will not complete the tale. 

Act I. The call of Gideon. 

* Judges, chapters iv and v. 

t Judges, chapters vi, vii, viii. Here again the reader is asked to 
turn up the Bible story. The following scheme is but the barest 



Act II. Gideon's preparations. 

Act III. Gideon's defeat of the Midianites. 
This takes the story up to the defeat of the Midianites by the 
three hundred men with trumpets, torches and pitchers. But 
it omits the splendid story of Gideon's requital to the men of 
Succoth and of Penuel ; how he " taught " with thorns and with 
briers the three score and seventeen elders of Succoth, and 
broke down the tower of Penuel and slew the men of the city. 

The outline of the scenes would be as follows : 

Induction. The prophet speaks (see chapter vi, verse 8). 
He not only reproaches the Israelites for their sin, but describes 
the impoverishment brought upon them by the Midianites. 

Act I, Scene 1. (Ottter.) An angel appears to Gideon 
while he is threshing wheat by the wine-press, and says, " The 
Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." Their confer- 
ence is told fully in the Bible story. When Gideon goes in 
to prepare his present the angel goes in also. The miracle is 
not shown. 

Scene 2. (Outer.) Gideon's father, Joash, and his house- 
hold, and certain men of the city come in and speak of the 
grove and the altar of Baal. Perhaps they could speak of a 
festival in honour of Baal to be held on the morrow. Then 
they go out. 

Scene 3. (Outer.) Gideon comes through the traverse 
opening and says, "Alas, O Lord God ! for because I have 
seen an angel of the Lord face to face." He then reflects 
upon what he has been told to do. 

If you have the means of showing the miracle, a much 
better version of these opening scenes can be given. The 
first scene is held on the outer stage as but now suggested, 
and, after his talk with the angel, Gideon goes in to prepare 
the flesh and cakes. The angel having promised to tarry 
until he comes again, must fill the interval in some way. We 
might therefore put in at this point what was, in our first version, 
the Induction, and let the angel speak the words instead of 
the prophet. When Gideon is ready the traverse opens and 
the angel goes in with him. The rest of the scene is played 
on the inner stage. Now in " The Tempest " there is a stage- 
direction, " Thunder and Lightning. Enter Ariel (like a Harpy). 


claps his wings upon the table, and with a quaint device the 
banquet vanishes." If, by means of gunpowder on the rock 
and electric wires in the angel's wand, you can contrive a 
quaint device of this nature, then the scene with the miracle 
can be shown fully. " And the angel of God said unto him, 
' Take the flesh and the imleavened cakes, and lay them upon 
this rock, and pour out the broth.' And he did so. Then the 
angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his 
hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes ; and 
there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and 
the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed 
out of his sight. . . ." Gideon said, " Alas, O Lord God ! 
for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face." 
Gideon comes out and the traverse closes. 

This, in my opinion, is by far the better version. But it 
requires a quaint device. Gideon now reflects how it was 
commanded him that he should throw down the altar of Baal 
and cut down the grove. So he calls to him Phurah, his 
servant, and tells him to come soon at nightfall, with several 
others and to bring axes. 

Scene 4. (Outer.) The men of Midian marching. 

I suggest this episode partly because it is quite time something 
was seen of the Midianites, but also to mark the passage of time 
before the men of the city can come in to Joash to complain 
of the deed of Gideon. A scene on the rear stage showing the 
deed is not worth the trouble it would entail. But Phurah 
and his accomplices should certainly come through with lanterns 
and axes and be told by Gideon what they aU have to do. The 
men of Midian must march with torches, because it is night.* 

Scene 5. (Inner.) Now it is morning (Joash says so in 
the story) and the men of the city complain to Joash. He 
defends his son. Gideon presently comes in and calls the 
men of the city to arms. Tlien he blows a trumpet, and sends 
out messengers throughout all Manasseh. Joash and the others 
go out to stir up the people. Gideon remains and decides to 
test the Lord's will in the proof of the fleece. (End of Act I.) 

Act II. Scene 1. (Outer.) Men of Israel marching — ^Asher 

* For the stage suggestion of a whole night and the following morning, 
cf. " JuUus Caesar," Act II. 

T 289 


and Zebulun and Naphtali. Gideon addresses them, bidding 
the fearful ones return home. 

Scene 2. (Inner.) Gideon finds himself justified in the 
proof of the fleece. We need not show both episodes, the 
fleece wet and the fleece dry. One is shown, and the other 
made clear to the audience in Gideon's soliloquy. It will be 
well to change the Bible order, to refer to the case in which the 
fleece was found dry, and to show the case in which the fleece 
was found wet, because the latter is finer for the stage : " He 
rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, 
and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water." 

Scene 3. (Outer.) Gideon comes in with his army. They 
go, a few at a time, in behind the traverse where a river is 
supposed to run. Gideon sends away those who bowed down 
upon their knees to drink. He warns them to return home 
directly, for " the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley." 
To his picked men he then gives victuals and trumpets, and 
they all go out. (End of Act H.) 

Act III. Scene 1. (Outer, then Inner.) Midianite soldiers 
in their camp. They talk about the Israelites, and the dark 
of the night as it comes on. They have plenty to eat and drink, 
for they have been living on the fat of the land ever since they 
came down upon Israel before the harvest. The soldiers have 
also brought rich plunder with them into camp. After a 
time they say it is dark, and they go behind the traverse, which 
is their tent. Gideon and Phurah enter presently as spies 
and listen outside the tent. Phurah hears a man tell his dream 
to his fellow, and he relates it to Gideon. They go out. A 
Midianite captain comes and (the traverse now opening) finds 
the soldiers all asleep among their pots and baggage, and turns 
them out, for it is broad day. 

Scene 2. (Outer.) Gideon divides his men into three 
companies, " and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with 
empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers." He tells 
them his stratagem. They go out marching to a chant. 

Scene 3. (Whole stage.) The Midianites enter on all sides 
ecah bottles and booty, singing and making revel. After a 
cwiaf ge carousal they fall asleep one by one. Those on the 
bton ketss lie among piles of booty and camp baggage. Now 


the last man awake wanders from group to group with a lantern, 
looking for a boon companion, and singing tipsily. Finding 
none awake he swears, then trips over a prostrate form, and 
falls. His lantern goes out, and the whole camp lies still in 
the dark.* 

Now a company of the Israehtes steals in on one side, their 
pitchers glowing dimly from the torches within them. Now 
another company steals in on the other side Then Gideon 
leads in the third company at the back, and they line the back 
stage. In the (supposed) dim light Gideon mounts a bale and, 
with a flourish of the sleeve, sets his trumpet and blows a long 
blast. At once all the men of Gideon, surrounding the stage 
on three sides, smash the pitchers by knocking them one against 
another, and blow a great blast on the trumpets. ■}■ They hold 
" the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their 
right hands to blow withal : and they cry, ' The sword of the 
Lord and of Gideon ! ' " But they do not move from their 
places. The stupefied Midianites spring up. But what with 
the wine they have taken, and their sleepiness, and the light 
of the torches and the blare of the trumpets they are confounded 
altogether. Every man's sword is turned against his fellow, 
and those who are not slain take to flight. 

There is no drop-curtain to fall at this point and spoil 
the story. Gideon calls his torch-bearers together and bids 
some go straightway to Naphtali and Asher and Manasseh and 
stir them up to pursue after the Midianites, and some he sends 
" throughout all Mount Ephraim saying, ' Come down against 
the Midianites, and take before them the waters imto Beth- 
barah and Jordan.' " With a great shout of " The sword of 

* Elizabethan conditions necessitate the playing of such a scene as 
this in broad daylight. Hence the need of this lantern business to 
suggest dark. 

t Gideon's party of three hundred would be represented on the stage 
by some thirty, but the breaking of even this number of pitchers would 
be a costly performance. In the discussion at the opening of the third 
act of " A Midsummer Night's Dream," the rude mechanicals effectively 
solved many knotty problems of representation. Playboys in like 
maimer could find a device to make all well. I suggest metal cans 
instead of earthenware pitchers. These would be dropped with a crash 
instead of broken. 



the Lord and of Gideon ! " the men with their torches run out 
on all sides. (End of Act III.) 

Here we must leave Gideon, though some of the best is yet 
to come. Shakespeare, however, at the end of his second play 
of " Henry IV," has still more to promise of his hero. So 
perhaps we also may undertake to " continue the story " 
another day. 

Of the many Bible stories suitable for playmaking the 
types of action here illustrated in " Rahab and the Spies," 
in " Deborah and Barak " and in " Gideon " are the most 
suitable for schoolboys at the typical schoolboy age of eleven to 
fifteen. But because we have chosen stirring tales of battle 
for our instances the reader must not conclude that the rousing 
element is all that the Play Way can find for boys in the Bible. 
There are many other types of action in play besides the heroic 
and the processional, but space is not unlimited, and many 
wonderful tales must be passed over here. With sixth-form 
boys of sixteen to nineteen years old the story of Ruth might 
be taken as a subject for playmaking ; and also the story of 
Esther. These tales are drama itself; but they are not the 
most suitable for Littleman. 

There are many elements to be considered in the study of a 
subject so ample as playmaking, and every side of the question 
cannot be discussed at the same time. I fea'r that more than 
one of my readers is tired by now of the show of brave deeds 
and the tramp of armed men. And perhaps the opening and 
shutting of the traverse has become a weariness. But we are 
now to leave the staging element for a space and turn to the 
question of style. 

In the teaching of English hterature and composition in 
schools the most important task, in my judgment, is the 
imparting of a living style to the pupil ; a style which he will 
use in his own work. I say to impart a style because, although 
" the style is the man," we, as teachers of literatm-e, must 
endeavour to foster the native artistic power in the pupil by 
means of the study of great books. You cannot make a silk 
purse out of a sow's ear, and you cannot make a poet out of a 
bom stupid ; for though poets must be made, they must be 
bom too. But, given an able pupil, by what means are we to 


get him to practise a conscious and yet a natural style ? It 
is important to observe that the question is not, " How can we 
get boys to write good poetry or good prose ? " Our Playbooks 
are full of lyrics and ballads and prose studies, and some of 
those pieces are of high literary merit. But all those pieces 
are short, and they are, so to speak, the work of chance. 
They are the product of some quite unconscious, some quite 
inexplicable power in yornig boys. There is nothing in the 
quaUty of the Littleman prose studies and poems which can be 
defined by the term style, in the more restricted sense of the 
term. The work is artless. How is the master to train his 
boys to express themselves consciously in some artistic manner, 
deliberately to study style ? How shall the boy learn to know 
(or is it not rather to feel ?) what is good from what is not 
good, and how to judge of the fitness and appropriateness of a 
word or a phrase or a manner of utterance ? 

Style, in the narrower sense of the term, is well enough 
understood by present-day teachers, and finds a sufficient 
place in their lessons. But there are two points I should 
like to make in this chapter with regard to style. One is that 
boys cannot do any satisfactory work in connexion with style, 
in the more restricted sense, before the age of fourteen or there- 
abouts ; and the other point is that the quest of style in the 
wider sense of the term may begin in mere child's-play, for it 
includes many diverse activities. Style is not all book-study. 
First, then, consider the possibilities of imitation. A boy 
must read the masterpieces of literature, some very thoroughly, 
and some very often. Then he may take some distinctive 
styles and deliberately set himself to write in imitation. 
But he must take them one at a time and, during the period 
of this practice, must scrupulously avoid mixing the charac- 
teristic elements of one style with those of another. Bible 
Elnglish is in a style which any boy can recognize whenever he 
hears it. He must, then, school himself to write in this style 
until his fellows on hearing him read his exercise can say, 
" That is like nothing but the Bible." The writing of the 
plays I have sketched in this chapter, " Rahab and the Spies," 
" Deborah and Barak," and " Gideon " would be a simple 
and delightful introduction to this practice, because many of 


the speeches can be taken whole out of the Bible, or rendered 
fit for the play with very little change. 

Such passages as are not to be found in the Bible and 
have in consequence to be freshly composed by the boys — ^the 
porter's part in " Rahab and the Spies," for instance, the 
soliloquy of Barak before Jael's tent, and all that is said by 
the Midianites in " Gideon " — ^would have to be so carefully 
modelled on the Bible idiom that no hearer could point out the 
slightest incongruity. In the course of their practice the 
boys themselves would be able to single out and describe 
certain distinctive elements of the style they were engaged 
upon ; and several points would be demonstrated by the 
master in his teaching. We could say, " This is like the Bible, for 
such and such a reason. That is not like the Bible." But I 
think it would be unprofitable to define and tabulate the 
various elements. Style is to be learnt, if at all, by example 
and experiment rather than by rule and prescription. In the 
study of style by imitation a daily exercise gives excellent 
practice, even if it has to be very short because only a few minutes 
can be spared for it. But of course there must also be long 
exercises done, and lessons devoted to the study. AU the 
reading, and the literary study, and the dramatic craftsmanship, 
and the sensible composition, and the lively acting are knit 
into a whole by their being the different parts of one concern 
— ^the play. 

Elizabethan narrative prose is another beautiful style 
which the boys should study to reproduce. A story can be 
taken out of North's " Plutarch " and dramatized as a prose 
play. In this form of exercise Incongruity (i.e. that which is out 
of keeping with the model) would be regarded as the chief 
fault of style, as Impropriety (i.e. that which is not peculiarly 
fit) is the chief fault of style in original writing. With a 
distinctive model before them the boys would learn what was 
meant by a standard. And later on those who had successfully 
come up to a standard which had been set before them, and had 
learnt to avoid Incongruity, would be more able to set up a 
standard for themselves, to avoid Impropriety, and maintain a 
conscious effort at good style. 

Several other distinctive styles can be found both in prose 


and verse, worthy and possible to be imitated, though differing 
greatly from one another as they come from different ages. 
There is the style of Shakespeare's plays, and the style of the 
traditional ballads. Both of these can be reproduced (in an 
external sense) by boys. For older boys a useful exercise is 
the imitation of Pope's heroic couplets, and the style of Robert 
Browning. As representative of to-day we have the style 
of Synge in his Irish Plays, and of Captain Scott in his Polar 
Journals.* Perhaps some one may accuse me of impropriety 
in speaking of all these diversities in the same paragraph. 
But they are all styles. 

* The style of Synge is easy to copy because it is sp largely composed 
of a certain phraseology. The same words, phrases, and turns of sentence 
occur again and again. Here are a few taken at random ; the reader will 
find them in a context on almost any page Of the plays : IVs myself — Is 
it me fight Mm ? — Fm thinking — IVs a poor (fine, great, hard, etc.) thing — 
A little path I have — Let you come — God help us all — Till Tuesday was a 
week — The end of time — The dawn of day — Let on — Kindly — Now, as in 
Walk out now — Surely — Maybe — Itself — At all — Afeard — Destroyed — A 
curse. Synge is also mighty fond of the words ditch and ewe. And there 
are certain forms of rhythm about Synge's prose which are used with equal 
frequency, and are quite easy to catch. So far from this imitation of 
style being an artificial method, the fact is that once a boy of sixteen or 
over has read a play or two of Synge's, if he has any power of style in him 
it will be aU but impossible to stop him writing like Synge for a few weeks. 

In Scott's Journals there is no deliberate style or conscious art, but 
only a plain narrative set down in a straightforward manner. This 
is a good style. There is, to be sure, a sprinkling of irregularities which 
may offend a hypercritical reader in his arm-chair, such as a split 
infinitive now and then, a rare lapse into sailor slang, and a few mixed 
constructions. But a man who is marching to the South Pole must be 
allowed to chronicle the day's doings while in camp at night in the words 
which come to him most readily. In any case Scott's readers of three 
hundred years hence will not be aware that these irregularities were even 
questionable at the date of his writing. I know several schoolmasters 
who profess to admire the tales of Elizabethan voyagers and yet cannot 
be bothered to read Scott's Journals. They would tell you it was a 
question of style. Which is as much as to say that clear straightforward 
English prose of to-day must wait a few centuries before scholars will 
recognize it as style. 

As regards imitation of this, a model that has no outstanding 
characteristics, no positive tricks, graces, or ornaments may seem to 
be a very difficult one to imitate. So it is ; but some clear, straight- 
forward, " uncharactered " prose style makes an excellent final model 


i: tiVj rijAx WAX 

Now I have not suggested for a moment that it is easy, 
or even that it is possible, for any pupil, man or boy, to get 
by imitation the style of one of the great writers and to use it 
with any mastery. To begin with, the imitation is httle more 
than a verbal one, for the young pupil cannot borrow the cast 
of mind and the habit of thought which made Shakespeare write 
in his rich, abundant style, and Robert Browning in his swift, 
crowded style. The pupU studies to recognize the outstanding 
characteristics of expressive form in his model and strives to 
reproduce them. There is nothing of parody about it, but the 
mention of parody will give a hint of what I mean. A teacher 
with an understanding of his subject and of his pupil — of 
Shakespeare, let us say, and of Littleman — should be able to 
teach his boys to follow this master of style just as the old 
painters taught their school of pupils to follow their style. 

This method of imparting a sense of style to the pupil is 
well known in the teaching of classics, as a part of the system of 
seventeenth-century educators ; and it need not, in consequence, 
be discussed here in greater detail. But the imitation of 
models in one's writing is only a part of the process which goes to 
the making of a living style. The study and the practice of 
style in writing is partly a science and partly an art. Scholarly 
teachers in schools have given all their attention to the scientific 
side. We would not have a like exaggeration practised by the 
teacher who is an artist, that is the playmaster ; but it is 
necessary to insist that the artist side of any maker of literature, 
be he a past master or simply a prentice, must be fully repre- 

The method of " learning Shakespeare " through acting the 
plays instead of only through a reading and discussion of 
them, and the method of performing parts in history and of 
declaiming orations, especiaUy if due attention is given by 
the master to the clear enunciation of words and to the free 
and open delivery of the speeches, will do much to foster the 

when a boy is ready to leave this method of imitation and write a style 
of his own. Tested by the standard of the plain model all faults of bad 
boTTowing, and the persistence of certain elements not truly assimilated, 
would be shown up, and archaisms, affectations, and other faults easily 


pupil's appreciation of style. Many teachers to whom I have 
suggested this have been inclined to scoff at the idea. They 
admit that from play-acting may come certain benefits, but an 
appreciation of style is not one of them. Style, they say, 
is to be leamt by study and not by exhibitions and holdings 
forth. Milton, however, thought otherwise : ". . . then will 
the choice Histories, Heroic Poems, and Attic Tragedies of 
stateliest and most regal Argument, with all the famous 
Political Orations, offer themselves ; which if they were not 
only read, but some of them got by memory, and solemnly 
pronounced with right accent and grace, as might be taught, 
would endue them even with the spirit and vigour of Demos- 
thenes or Cicero, Euripides or Sophocles." 

This is no small claim to come from one so learned in the 
ancient masters as was Milton. I would ask the reader to note 
in especial the method approved here by Milton, " if they were 
not only read, but pronounced with right accent and grace " 
and he adds, " as might be taught." In an earlier passage he 
directs, " Their speech is to be fashion'd to a distinct and 
clear pronunciation." He is speaking of Latin, and would 
have their speech fashion'd " as near as may be to the Italian, 
especially in the vowels." That good counsel of a learned 
man and a poet was offered nearly three hundred years ago, 
yet our schoolmasters in most English schools still pronounce 
Latin, the tongue of old Italy, as though it were some bastard 
Scandinavian dialect. And these are the men who set themselves 
up, in libraries, studies, and schoolrooms, to instruct the un- 
scholarly among us in the imparting of style. 

Milton spoke also of " grace." Who ever saw grace insisted 
upon by an English schoolmaster in connexion with lessons in 
history, poetry, or oratory ? 

In the quest of style the next stage, after play and imitation, 
is the study of technique. This includes such things as the 
arrangement of matter, and the construction of the sentence, the 
paragraph, and the essay. It would not be in place here to 
offer any constructive suggestions on this matter; and in 
any case, this side of the study of literature and composition 
is akeady all too familiar to teachers of English. They teach, 
in fact, little else in early composition but the minor technicalities 



of framework and punctuation. The very existence of English 
verse composition is rarely acknowledged in the schools of 
England to-day ; the writing of poetry is never practised 
consistently as part of the school course of study. But in their 
middle-school lessons on prose composition, teachers bring in 
the full apparatus of technical instruction far too early. What 
with the making of frameworks and outlines for essays, para- 
phrase and precis, notes to write on the figures of speech, and 
chapters to learn on the elements and qualities of style, such 
as Brevity, Perspicuity, Lucidity, Vivacity, Frigidity, Sublimity, 
and many another Pomposity, the wretched pupil has not the 
mind to write any prose of his own real making, nor the time 
to do it if he would. We do not deny that some of these matters 
of technical instruction have their place in the teaching of 
composition. All we ask is that teachers would find out the 
due place of these matters and keep them in it. 

Here following is a brief indication of a course, such as 
I would suggest, for the various occupations which, on the 
Play Way system, go to make up the quest of style for a boy. 

(i) Form II, Age 10-12. The making of simple artless 
poems, ballads, and prose studies (the Littleman pieces) in 
connexion with his early reading of stories in prose and verse. 
At this time come his own original speeches and lectures, which 
must be correct in grammar and sweet in delivery, but by no 
means mannered or artful. He speaks simply in his own proper 
person, and is innocent of any mannerism or contrivance. At 
this time also is placed the rhythmical recital of little poems to 
the accompaniment of his stick for beating time, to school him 
by a plajrful device in the measure and melody of verse. This 
is the age of a boy which I have called Littleman. 

(ii) Form III. Age 12-14. The acting of Shakespeare's plays 
conducted in such a way that he may learn how to move well 
and freely, and how to use his limbs with vigour and with grace, 
so that as he grows to manhood he may have attained a handsome 
" presence," such as we English were noted for in other days. 
He must now learn with more than playful care how to speak 
well, pronouncing cleanly and distinctly, and not muttering. 
Milton says : " For we Englishmen being far Northerly, do not 
open our mouths in the cold air, wide enough to grace a 


Southern tongue ; but are observ'd by all other Nations to speak 
exceeding close and inward." 

Since the days of Shakespeare and Milton we have more and 
more disgraced our own tongue, for at present you may go 
many days up and down the coimtry without hearing good 
English spoken. 

With his acting of Shakespeare goes Miming, to the 
furtherance of free movement and expressive gesture. For we 
English, as Milton would say, dare not take our hands out of 
our pockets in the cold air, and are " exceeding close and inward " 
with all our movements. At this time also comes his chief 
practice in playmaking, for the fuller understanding of 
Shakespeare's dramatic craftsmanship. At this time his writing 
may still be good by chance, through natural genius and childish 
inspiration ; but it can scarcely yet be good through conscious 
art, for his sense of style as it may be learned is only beginning 
here. He will sometimes strive after effect, and produce many 
monstrosities, the correction of which must chiefly be looked 
for in his close imitation of the best writers. 

At this age (which more or less begins the age of puberty) it is 
necessary for his bodily welfare, no less than for the perfection 
of his mind, that his schooling should be as much as possible in 
active pursuits and bodily exercises in the open air ; and as 
little as possible indoors, sitting still, or in long-continued 
reading. Therefore this age is the fittest time for the making 
and acting of plays, especially those of a martial and heroic 
character, and for dancing. At this age also he first begins 
to understand music, and his taste can be formed to know and 
partly to appreciate what is good, through glees and madrigals, 
processional chants, folk-songs, choir-singing, and playing some 
instrument. In all this he can take part. But he should 
also hear much good music performed by an orchestra, and on 
the organ, in school and out. He should be taught to shun 
all the shallow, rubbishy airs, dances, and songs of to-day ; 
and his nattiral desire for entertainment and fun in music, as 
in other things, should be fully gratified with light and gay 
and dainty songs and airs, which are nevertheless good music. 
At this age I have called the lad a Playboy.* 

* The terms " Littleman " and " Playboy " as the names for stages 



(iii) Fonn IV. Age 14-16. At this age it is proper for a boy 
to begin those studies which are fit for one able to reason. 
This he could not well do before, being at the first too little 
and then later, not only still inunature, but also too much taken 
up with bodily development and physical changes. Now in his 
quest for style, he may begin to learn technique and the 
conscious art of writing. His imitation of models will now be 
more thoughtful ; and the composition of his own prose and 
verse, being now a studied business, will cost him some pains, 
and show at first but little result. Therefore the interest in 
producing something must be discouraged as the chief aim ; 
and his teacher must give him to understand that he is now to 
be a student, and must for the remainder of his school time 
concentrate all his powers and his main interest upon learning 
in its more restricted sense. 

Milton says : " And now lastly will be the time to read 
with them those organic Arts which inable men to discourse and 
write perspicuously, elegantly, and according to the fitted 
style of lofty, mean, or lowly. Logic, therefore, so much as is 
useful, is to be referr'd to this due place with aU her well coucht 
Heads and Topics, until it be time to open her contracted palm 
into a graceful and ornate Rhetoric." 

Having brought our boy in his quest of style, not through 
this last stage, but only to the threshold of it, we propose, 
to the surprise of the reader, to leave him. But I will explain. 
We leave him in other hands. Many a man in considering 
this matter, the quest of style, would only be starting his in- 
vestigations at this point where we propose to leave off. That 
is to say, for most teachers style begins with what Milton 
calls the organic arts and (elementary) logic. But in the 
reckoning of the Play Way it is not so. In this survey I 
have started with a boy of ten, at which age he is a mere cMd, 
and have taken him up to the age of foiui;een, where he must 

in the boy's school course are definitely described here, but have not been 
consistently used throughout the book. The Play Way is still in its 
experimental stages, still an essay in method, and theiefoie I have 
thought it advisable to avoid using such terms according to a strict 
application, for fear of seeming to suggest that the Play Way was already 
in shape as an ordered system of education. 


begin to be a man. There I shall hand him over, a potential 
student now, to those teachers whose work lies, if not principally, 
at any rate firstly, among the organic arts and logic. In him- 
self a playmaster may be a student of style in the more re- 
stricted sense of the term, and he may be ever so learned in the 
technique of rhetoric, but in so far as the subject of this book 
is concerned, namely, the Play Way, we must leave our playboy 
at this point to become a student. 

The quest of style may begin in books of grammar ; it 
may begin anywhere. But it certainly does not spring solely 
from the organic arts and logic. Even if we take the term in 
a very restricted sense to mean the conscious art of technique 
in writing, we must stiU give consideration to the spirit which 
is to inform that work, and to the matter upon which this 
conscious art is being exercised. Style is inextricably boimd 
up with matter and with man. And therefore I do not scruple 
to claim for the Play Way that in these activities of acting 
and reciting and singing and dancing and free composition, so 
long as they are guided and controlled by a master possessing 
taste as well as humour, and judgment as well as enthusiasm, 
we are laying not only a foundation but the very best founda- 
tion for a learned and reasoned appreciation of style later on, 
and for a conscious and scholarly pursuit of style Ijy the pupil 
in his own work. 

In our study of practical playmaking we have now dealt 
with the adaptation of the story, and with the working out 
of the plot in accordance with the conditions and conventions 
of a given stage. In school the first step in playmaking is 
to find your story and to have it read and told, and re- 
read and retold, until it is thoroughly familiar to every one 
who is to take a share in the playmaking. Discussion then 
follows. It is impossible to lay down any rule respecting the 
order in which the various matters should be taken, or the 
method in which the discussion should be conducted. I have 
found the system very successful which at this junctxire frankly 
admits " ITie debate is now open to the House." A whole 
lesson at a time can profitably be given up to an informal 
discussion and exchange of views among the boys. Many 
talk at the same time. There is, so far as I can see, no reason 



why six or seven persons should not be speaking their views all 
at once, provided that it is not necessary for every one to hear 
every speaker.* There is so much to be said that the boys 
soon split up into little groups according as their chief interest 
lies in the adaptation of the story, or the working out of the 
characters, or the allotment of the parts, or the staging, or the 
provision of make-shift costume and properties, or the actual 
writing of provisional parts in the form of notes giving cues 
and a rough suggestion of the dialogue. The class at this 
stage of the playmaking has in fact resolved itself into a number 
of sub-committees ' sitting " all in the same room. That 
is why there is such a noise. I have seen whole lesson-whiles 
devoted to this busy arguments There is merry laughter, some 
scolding, and much debate. Several boys are walking about ; 
a few perhaps are illustrating to one another on the platform a 
bout or a death or a method of harangue or of capture — doing 
it in action as they will do it before the duke. One perhaps 
sketches a plan on the blackboard. Some sit in the desks 
while others stand before them or lean over their shoulders. 
They are gathered in working groups, putting their brown 
heads together for the making of their play ; and the room 
is full of an industrious chatter. A visitor entering suddenly 
might fancy that he had come by mistake into a classroom 
of the old school in the absence of the master ; for the noise 
of allowed play sounds at first just hke the noise of disorder. 
But if you listen you will find that it is articulate. The master 
is present, and is perfectly satisfied with the discipline. He 
visits the groups in turn at their requirement, and spends 
his advice according to need ; though he might easily find 
enough of interest and value to occupy him in one sub-committee 
throughout the period. 

The next stage in the playmaking is the preparation of 
notes by the boys, partly in school during this informal 
discussion, but chiefly as a series of homework in the evening. 

* This state of affairs is only recommended as allowable in the 
particular circumstances under consideration. My colleagues who teach 
languages on the direct method have pointed out that in the learning 
of French, Latin, and Greek it is essential that all the boys shouH hear 
every word spoken in the classroom. 


These notes represent, as it were, the " finding " of each 
member of a sub-committee. Those who have been working 
upon the adaptation of the story will draw up as homework an 
outline of the scenes, such as I have given for the dramatization 
of Bible stories in the earlier pages of this chapter. Those 
who have given their chief attention to the characters will 
sketch out the part of some principal person, or make a little 
study of the place to be filled by a number of minor parts. 
Others will actually write parts for the principals in the chief 
scenes, giving them all their cues, all the stage-directions, and 
the openings of their most important speeches. In order to 
follow out as far as possible the craftsmanship of Shakespeare 
it will be advisable for the boys to jot down on their parts, 
either beforehand in preparation or during the early rehearsals 
before the play is actually written, all the stage directions, all 
the important movements they have to make, and all the 
properties required at certain junctures. Then when the play 
is finally written the makers will, as far as possible, mention 
or allude to these things actually in the lines to be spoken. 
Some reader may overlook the importance of this suggestion. 
But the embodiment of all the action and the material in the 
words written to be spoken is an essential part of playmaking 
on this system. It is one of the chief characteristics of work- 
manship which — ^to make aU clear in a verbal quibble — dis- 
tinguishes the playwright from the playivriter. 

With boys imder fifteen you must at this point begin to 
act your play if you wish to get any life into the composition. 
Of course it is an amorphous thing at this time. The speeches 
are partly read from notes and partly composed impromptu on 
the spur of utterance. The action is interrupted from time 
to time by the onlooking playmakers, by the master, and by 
the actors themselves. The understanding is that during the 
early composition rehearsals there may be as many interruptions 
as are necessary. If the matter of inquiry or suggestion can 
be settled at the moment, by adoption or rejection, it is so 
settled ; but if it should involve longer discussion or repeated 
trial, or elaborate changes, or much recasting and rewriting of 
what is already done, the matter is postponed to a later and 

special discussion period, 



The boys chosen to act the amorphous play in the composition 
rehearsals may not be the ones who will eventually play the 
parts. But it is of course a good plan to settle as soon as possible 
upon the actual cast, because once you have a player before 
you in actual being you can build your created character to 
fit him ; or he and his part can grow up together in the making. 
This suggestion may surprise some reader who has always 
regarded characters in a play as the absolute creations of the 
artist's invention. But just as a character when played gains 
or loses by the individual interpretation of the actor, so may 
a character in the making be modified, shaped, and influenced 
by reference and approximation to a living model. It would 
be fruitless and digressive to argue the point here, but in 
passing we may instance the parallel with the painter's model. 
How many of the most sublime Madonnas of Raphael and 
Leonardo and Botticelli are in part the portraits of beautiful 
women. The boy playmakers under their master's guidance 
must learn not only that they are to make Peter's part in the 
play like Peter himself in some respects (because that seems a 
natural and an easy thing to do) but they must also learn what 
it means to take the living thing as a model for the art form. 

After the acting there is more discussion, and after the 
discussion more acting. And all the time there is many a 
child among you taking notes, and busily thinking out the 
speeches, and fashioning his draft lines. The purpose of 
acting the play from the very first is that the boys may see 
the story in rough dramatic form. Then they can trim it and 
shape it, and finally write it.* The discussions are of two 
kinds — ^first, the informal exchange of ideas among the boys, 
and secondly, the lessons of the master ; in the course of which 
the boys — ^as in lessons everywhere — ^may ask for information 
or raise difficult points for discussion. 

The master in these lessons can teach the rules and proprieties 

* At a time when both seniois and juniors had been engaged in 
communal playmaking one of the sixth-form players, writing a hiunorous 
account of oin: goings-on (in one of those " rag " magazines that crop 
up in schools) sought a true word to describe the activity of the boy- 
plajrwrights. There is no present tense of " wrought," and so he coined 
the expression Plan-wreaking. This term, however, I have not adopted 


of the art of dramatic poetry so far as suits the age of his boys. 
They should have notebooks and write down what they learn 
about action, construction, characterization, and diction, 
with a multitude of examples, for a rule is both xmderstand 
and remembered best in an example. Even boys of ten could 
be taught to understand and to observe many rules and 
proprieties which the modem play-writers of London would be 
the better for knowing. At first the things taught will be 
simply practical, such as the way of making your play to suit a 
given stage, the use of the traverse, advice about exits and 
entrances, about light and dark, about crowds, processions, 
" business," and so on. Later on the boys will be taught the 
meaning and force of certain literary and dramatic conventions, 
the distinction of styles, the power of tradition. Of this study, 
which we shall call Poetics, Milton says, " that sublime Art 
which . . . teaches what the Laws are of a true Epic Poem, 
what of a Dramatic, what of a Lyric, what Decorum is, which 
is the grand masterpiece to observe. This would make them 
soon perceive what despicable creatures our common Rimers 
and Play-writers be, and show them what religious, what 
glorious and magnificent use might be made of Poetry both 
in divine and human things." 

But the teacher must never get so engrossed in his lecturing 
as to forget that " the play's the thing." At the very most 
the lessons on the art of dramatic poetry should never take more 
than a third part of the acting and playmaking time ; the study 
and acting of Shakespeare should take another third, and the 
making and acting of the bojrs' original plays should fill the 
remaining part. 

In a few playmaking experiments with senior players we 
found that the method of acting the scenes while they were 
still unwritten was a failure. The sixth-form boys pointed 
out that the self-consciousness of their age (sixteen to eighteen 
years) made it impossible for them to stand up and speak a 
part impromptu. And so, after the preliminary discussion, 
various individuals each imdertook to write a whole scene. 
Their work was then discussed, acted, amphfied, and amended 
until all the playmakers were satisfied with it. 

It would be dangerous to draw up any scheme of playmaking 

u 305 


lest any one should be tempted to stick to the letter of it. So 
a mere list shall be given here of the activities of boys and master 
which result in a finished play : 

i. Reading and telling of the story. 

ii. Informal discussion, 

iii. Sub-committee stage. 

iv. Preparation of rough notes. 

V. Acting in the rough. 

vi. Master's lessons, 

vii. Discussion of special points, 

viii. Careful fashioning, shaping, and writing. 

ix. Careful acting, as in rehearsal. 

X. Final revision of text of speeches, 

xi. Performance with all due ceremony. 

The sub-committees really exist throughout the playmaking, 
for there will always be groups of boys interested in one 
branch of the work more than in another, and more able than 
the other boys to do the work connected with it. Thus there 
are the plot-managers, the actors, the poets, the producers, 
the craftsmen, and so on. But one boy may fill several of 
these functions. Sub-committees should not be formally 
appointed, for this would lead to specializing, and specializing 
is not desirable here. 

Let us take two examples of plays which might be made, 
" The Golden Goose " and " The Cherry Bough," and illustrate 
further matters of playmaking with particular reference to 
those stories. 

The story of " The Golden Goose " may be read in " Grimm's 
Fairy Tales." After the story had been read once or twice one 
of the boys would be set to tell it in a form more fit for our 
playmaking piu:pose. After his relation and the subsequent 
informal discussion the tale would be in something like the 
following shape. I give the outline only : 

A boy goes out to cut wood and meets a little old man in 
the forest with whom he shares his simple meal. The little 
old man rewards him with the gift of a golden goose. The 
boy decides to run away from home, where he is not happy, and 
seek his fortune with this prize. He goes to an inn, where 


he discovers that the goose has the magical property that all 
who touch it are unable to get free again. The daughters of 
the inn-keeper become fixed, and the boy walks away followed 
by the three girls in a row. In the fields he meets the Parson, 
who cries shame on the girls for thus pursuing a young man and 
in seeking to restrain them, he himself becomes attached to the 
procession. Other folk are drawn in as the boy continues his 
course, each one in turn becoming fastened to the tail of the 
procession. Now there is at the court a Princess who cannot 
laugh, and the King her father has promised her hand in 
marriage to the man who shall undo this melancholy imper- 
fection. The boy comes before the Princess, and causes her 
to laugh heartily at the motley crew which he draws in his 
train. So he marries the Princess, and they live happily ever 

Note that certain elements of the fairy tale, as it is to be 
found in Grimm, have already been shed. We have dropped 
out at the start the experiences of the two elder brothers. 
The elder brothers are a conventional part of many folk-tales ; 
and they might be retained in our play out of a respect for 
tradition. But they are not essential. Two of the playboys 
during the first actings might be glad to try parts as the elder 
brothers, to chop wood, to converse with the little old man of 
the woods, to refuse him hospitality, and then to meet with 
some misfortime in consequence. But if all this is acted twice 
over before we get to the youngest son, who is to find the golden 
goose, the class of playmakers will certainly say during their 
discussion that this is a very bad opening. They will see that 
the only possible way is to begin with the youngest son. If 
it is thought desirable not to cast out the elder brothers alto- 
gether from the story, the youngest boy can refer to them and 
their experiences in his opening soliloquy. 

The other chief excision is at the end of the story. We 
finish our play when the boy has made the Princess laugh and 
so is entitled to marry her. We may claim, if we like, that 
the further conditions subsequently imposed by the bargain- 
breaking King her father do not necessarily concern us as 
playmakers. We have made the Princess laugh with our 
entertainment, and no further considerations, whether of 



eating, of drinking, or of travel by land and by water shall be 
allowed to complicate the denouement. But we must allow a 
true discussion of the point, for certain boys may wish to act the 
play out to a finish. All praise to them, for in a mere going 
over the ground one may sometimes pick up a rich find. It is 
quite possible that two comedians acting the parts of the hungry 
man and the thirsty man could by persuasive demonstration 
effect what sound argument would not at first accept. There 
is certainly something quite promising about these two fellows. 
One, according to Grimm, has " a very miserable face " ; and 
he says, " Oh, I suffer such dreadful thirst that nothing seems 
able to quench it ; and cold water I cannot endure. I have 
emptied a cask of wine already, but it was just like a drop of 
water on a hot stone." This is an inviting figure for a comic 
interlude ; one, moreover, with an expressive style of speech. 
The hungry fellow is an equally engaging figure. " There sat 
a man binding himself round tightly with a belt, and making the 
most horrible faces." He reminds one of an allegorical figure 
in one of the old plays. 

Now the two comedians who ask to be allowed to try and 
create these parts in the first actings might make an excellent 
piece of work out of them. In the discussion that foUows, 
they, and those who think with them, are in favour of carrying 
the story on in order to include these two characters. They 
have the strong argument on their side that the master has often 
told them to look to the story — ^to trust their sources pretty 
thoroughly. The player who represents the little old man of the 
woods is also on their side, for the inclusion of these two persons 
will give him another appearance at the end of the play, instead 
of his being sent to bed at noon. The King would also be 
glad to have his part fattened. Against this party are the wise 
plot-managers who think it best to end the play when the 
Princess is won in her laughing. The boy and the Princess 
and the whole train of folk in the wake of the goose will vote 
with the plot-managers, if they have a right idea of their parts 
and are duly standing up for the characters they represent. 
For it is to the interest of all these that the play should not 
tail off into a series of comic interludes. And so a great consult 
begins, and discussion is rife. 

Two Shakespearean Servants 

[See p 341, Plate K 


[See p. nil, Plate G 

The Murderers in "The Babes m the Woud" 

[See p. 3-H, Plate F 


If the reader has taken the pains to turn up the story 
in Grimm, and to follow this account of it as the nucleus of 
a playmaking business, what, in his opinion, will the master 
be thinking while the boys are busy with their talk ? It is 
clear that some decision must be made by the master. And 
he will be wise to give good reasons for his verdict, so that the 
losers will learn something and not feel merely sat upon. On 
all such occasions there is an opporuntiy to teach the whole 
company something of good sense in dramatic craftsmanship 
and something of good taste in literature. I take this trifling 
instance of the tail-end of a simple story because it affords a 
useful illustration of the way in which playmaking can be 
connected with the study of literature. Of course all but the 
practical things must be postponed imtil the master's lessons 
later on in the playmaking. Some considerations must be 
postponed even further, for there are many studies in literature 
which are beyond a class of average Littlemen ; and these must 
be taught to a select few of them in private tuition out of school, 
or put off altogether until the boys have reached sixth-form 
standard. It may perhaps be asked what lessons in literature 
could possibly be taught in connexion with so simple a tale. 

Well, while the Littlemen are debating the claims of the 
thirsty man and the hungry man to have a part in their 
play, let us imagine that the thoughts of the playmaster 
wander. From this starting-point of play in the making, he 
comes to think of play already made. He thinks of the folk- 
legends, of the origin and handing down of these old tales. 
He thinks of the attempted interpretation of myth and legend 
by students of folk-lore, and wonders if they would interpret 
the lure of the goose as auri sacra fames. He wonders what 
they would make of the King's strange demand for a man 
who could drink all the wine in his cellar, and eat up a whole 
mountain of bread, and bring him a ship that could travel by 
land and by sea. Next the playmaster wonders whether it 
would be wise for him, since boys of twelve cannot perhaps be 
expected to create characters in a real literary sense, to make 
them model their work on early drama, and make the persons 
of their play (their kings, princesses, knights, younger sons 
their villains, magicians, dwarfs, and fairies) conventional figures 



of allegory — ^but with the moral left out ! Then, in connexion 
with Himger and Thirst in " The Golden Goose," he thinks 
of Maeterlinck's " Blue Bird," with its allegorical figures of 
Bread and Water. But he soon dismisses this train of thought 
in order to get back to literature. Then he thinks of Littleman 
and of " Everyman," and reflects how much of " their lyves in 
this worlde " the old writers designed to show forth " in manner 
of a morall playe." And he thinks of the men of the old craft 
guilds with their " pageants " and their Mistery Plays ; and 
he wonders if craftsmen could not again have a place of their 
own in literature. 

Then the playmaster, still sitting in thought, observes 
that some of the boys are acting again, to illustrate to one 
another certain parts in the proposed play. And he thinks 
of Sackville and of Spenser and of Bunyan ; and he wonders if 
the figures pictured by the great allegorical poets were conceived 
first as abstractions and afterwards materialized; or whether 
it is not more likely that these poets were incapable of conceiv- 
ing abstractions apart from some image or form of representa- 
tion. He considers the application of this to the work of his 

The playrnaster in his musing decides that, if the boys 
determine to have those figures of Hunger and Thirst in theii 
play, then it shall not be in a mere comic representation, 
but as something modelled on the work of the early dramatists 
or that of the allegorical poets. He decides that the boys 
who are to write the lines for Hunger and Thirst to speak 
shall learn by heart several stanzas of Sackville and of Spenser 
There is, for instance, the figure of Dread in the Induction to 
" The Mirror for Magistrates." 

Next sawe we Dread, al tremblyng how he shooke, 
With foote uncertayne profered here and there : 
Benumde of speache, and with a gastly looke 
Searcht every place al pale and dead for feare. 
His cap borne up with staring of his heare, 
Stoynde and amazde at his own shade for dread, 
And fearing greater daungers than was nede.* 

* See also the descriptions, in the same Induction, of Sorrow, 
Remorse, Misery, Old Age, and Death. 


There is the figure of Doubt in " The Faerie Queene."* 

Next after him went Doubt, who was yclad 

In a discolour'd cote of straimge disguyse. 

That at his back a brode Capuccio had, 

And sleeves dependaunt Albanesd-wyse : 

He lookt askew with his mistrustfull eyes, 

And nycely trode, as thomes lay in his way, 

Or that the flore to shiinke he did avyse ; 

And on a broken reed he still did stay 

His feeble steps, which shrunck when hard thereon he lay. 

The playmaster, indulging such a train of thought, has 
no doubt whatever that the simplest tale opens up innumerable 
lines for the teaching of literature, if only the adequate time 
were allowed for it. But at this point his reverie is broken 
in upon by cries of " Sir, Sir, Sir ! " and he wakes up and 
realizes that the boys' discussion of the point of plot-management 
is inconclusive, and that they require his aid to find a settlement. 
He advises them to end with the Princess and her laughing, 
and to cut out the rest of the story. For these are Littlemen 
at the beginning of a course of playmaking, and not students 
with some experience of literature. Simple, active things are 
their immediate need. 

If these simple, active thmgs are conducted imder a wise 
direction the boys' early efforts at playmaking can be made 
the foundation of that real interest in good literature which 
is indispensable to a true understanding of it. We teachers 
may not have the ability to do what we know ought to be done, 
but I am convinced that the ideal method, here called the 
Play Way (if only teachers could be found able to work in it) 
would give us in the course of time not only worthy readers 
of great books but worthy makers of great books too. 

Let us, then, turn back to simple, active things. Here 
is a simple scenario for " The Golden Goose," such as boys of 
twelve should be able to draw up after having worked at play- 
making for a term or two under the direction of their master. 
The play needs but one act. 

Scene 1. {Outer.) The boy — ^let us call him Andrew — 
comes in with a bundle of faggots, singing. After an expositional 

* Book ni, Canto xii. 



soliloquy he sits down to eat the frugal meal which is all his 
cruel stepmother has allowed him. After certain peepings 
and queer noises a little old man comes in. Andrew consents 
to share his poor meal with him. But when the basket is 
opened the dry bread, for which Andrew has made apology in 
advance, is found to have turned into buns, and the plain 
water or sour milk has turned into ginger-beer with a pop in 
it. Some conversation must go with the meal ; and even if 
the boys have learnt only the very first things about playmaldng 
they will see that the part of the story which concerns the 
Princess may well be set afoot here. The little old man tells 
Andrew of the Princess who never smiles, and of the King's 
decree. Then he tells Andrew that he will find something 
good behind yon tree, and vanishes. There is no need to cut 
down a tree, as in the story. The golden goose can simply 
be fotmd behind the curtain. One of the most valuable things 
which a playmaster can teach his boys is that they should 
not strive after useless effects, nor ever be afraid of the simple. 
Andrew goes off to see the world, with his goose imder his arm. 

Scene 2. {Inner.) The Princess comes in with her father, 
and attended by her ladies. The King speaks about her hmnour 
of melancholy and tells her of his decree. The Princess replies 
that she would not be sad if there were any due occasion to 
be merry. The King bids her ladies find more entertainment. 

Scene 3. {Outer, then Inner.) Andrew comes in gaily and, 
after a few words about going to see the world instead of 
returning home, he knocks at the door and an inn-keeper comes 
out. As the two go out by the door of the front stage the 
traverse opens, and they come in again at once on the back 
stage. This is the inn parloiur and the daughters of the Host 
are there. There is some amusing play for Andrew here when 
the Host speaks of his dinner and his bedroom. For of course 
poor Andrew has never ordered a dinner in his life before, 
nor ever slept in a bedroom. He understands little of what 
the Host is asking and suggesting, but he makes a brave show, 
and carries it off with an air. The girls, of course, will titter 
and giggle. Andrew forgets the goose and goes out with the 
Host to view his bedroom. The girls now have some good 
play before they find themselves all stuck fast to the tail of the 


golden goose. Remember that they are girls as conceived 
by the playboys. They will therefore shriek and make a big 
fuss. The Host and the boy Andrew will then come rmming in. 
I think the boy-playmakers at this point would be inclined to 
ignore the dinner still to be eaten and the bedroom still to be 
slept in, and would cause Andrew simply to put the goose under 
his arm and walk away, with the girls behind him. If not, 
I do n'ot see how we are to continue. After all, we only brought 
Andrew to the inn that he might attach the daughters of the 

Scene 4. {Outer.) The Parson of the parish now comes in 
with gout and a learned book. We need not give the Parson 
much time because it will be obvious to the audience that he 
is only introduced as the next victim to get caught up by 
Andrew. So after reading aloud a few lines of learned matter, 
interrupted by twinges of pain from his toe (cf. the singing of 
Parson Hugh Evans interrupted by tremblings of mind, in " The 
Merry Wives of Windsor," Act III, Scene 1), he hears a lilting 
air * and sees (off stage) what he indignantly describes as three 
girls pursuing a young man. They run on and around the front 
stage (which should be roomy). The old Parson shakes his 
stick and hobbles after them in protest. The girls utter plaintive 
appeals, but Andrew sings as he trots and is delighted with the 
fun. As soon as the Parson touches the tail of the procession 
he is caught up in it and made to trot with the rest. Andrew 
now runs off, and as the mingled noise of song and plaint and 
protest dies away down the corridor the traverse opens. 

Scene 5. {Inner.) The Princess comes in with her ladies. 
They try to make her merry (cf. " Richard II," Act III, Scene 4), 
but she remains sad. She asks for a song, and a boy comes 
in and sings to her ; but before the end she bids him break 
oft (cf. "Measure for Measure," Act IV, Scene l).t This 
is the simplest form in which to cast the part of the Princess. 

* It will add much to the onlookers' delight in the growing train 
of people if their recurrent approach is heralded and accompanied by 
a rhythmical tune, which will soon become familiar. Andrew might 
sing a little rhyme to the tune. 

t Boys of twelve will not have read these plays, but they will have 
learnt these things from their master. 



But if the boys wish to ampUfy it, the King could come in 
bringing a suitor who, in response to the decree, has come 
to try his skill. It is difficult to see what devices we could 
put him up to. If the suitor brings in with him some clown 
to play the fool before the Princess, the clowning must be 
exceptionally well done and draw real laughter from the audience, 
although it fail to move the Princess. Rubbishy knockabout 
stuff will not serve. Perhaps it is best to assume that she is 
to be gratified into a smile rather than tickled into a laugh, 
and the boy singer could then be brought by the suitor for her 
entertainment. If it is desired to amplify this side of the play 
still further, other suitors, could arrive each in a scene of his own 
(cf. the suitors to Portia), and bring dancers and instrumental 
music. If this be the plan adopted, the Princess will have 
some excellent speeches, and we have the whole literatiu:e ol 
Melancholy to draw upon for models. Consider what an opening 
is here for special reading with the best boys. 

Words for the songs in the plays should be composed by the 
boys.* The music can be borrowed from the folk-song 
collections, where there are scores of melodies grave and gay. 
If the master is himself a musician he can compose simple 
settings for boys' voices. But it will be best of all if he can 
teach the boys to compose their own music. There is all too 
little music in English schools. For simple and beautiful 
dances there could be nothing better than the country dances 
deciphered by Mr. Cecil Sharp from Playford's " EngUsh Dancing 
Master " (1650) and taught by The English Folk Dance Society. 
Our playboys have danced many of these and also the Morris 
and sword dances. But boys cannot do the country dances 
without girls. If you haven't any little girls you must borrow 
some, as we did. 

Scene 6. (Outer.) Andrew's procession is heard off stage 
trotting along to its lilting air. Presently they run across the 
front stage, and we see that one or two more victims, say a 
round Miller and a long Carpenter, have been added to the 

* Cf. Perse Playbooks, No. 3, the song in " The Wraggle Taggle 
Gypsies," " A mist came out of the lake to-night " ; and the two songs 
in " Baldr's Death," " Who wakens Wala " and " Fleecy Cloud and 
Feathery Snow." 


train since we last saw it. The procession runs across and out. 
Then the inn-keper comes in on one side, and the Town Beadle 
on the other. The Host is very angry and scolds the Beadle. 
He says there is a great disorder in the town and his daughters 
have been stolen away, all three of them, and under his very 
eyes, and by a young whipper-snapper of a lad. The Beadle 
replies angrily that it is no fault of his if all the people go mad, 
and suggests that the Host should keep his daughters under 
better control, and so on. While they are wrangling Andrew's 
procession comes lilting in again, the girls looking tired, the 
Parson nearly dead, and the long Carpenter and the roimd 
Miller about as angry as two men could well be. But Andrew 
is singing more gaUy than ever. His rhymes might be written 
to suit the various victims as they are captured. The Host 
tries to stop the train, and of course gets attached to the tail 
of it. At this the Beadle falls into a roar of laughter, and the 
Host infuriated, as he comes in his trot near to the Beadle, 
smites him hard ; and so the Beadle stops laughing suddenly 
and runs with the rest. We have now eight persons of very 
various appearance in the wake of Andrew, and I think that 
mil be enough. But the number of scenes showing the capture 
of victims will be conditioned by the number of scenes in which, 
we show the Princess and her suitors. We must be careful 
not to overdo in number either the court scenes or the street 
scenes, for there is little variety of subject to be had of either. 
The court scenes must be refined and charming full of a 
rich poetry of melancholy, sped with lyrics of love and Hey- 
nonny-nonny, and with dainty dances. The street scenes 
have a broader tone, the himiour is more crude, there is the 
sound of heavy feet and the noise of angry protestings. Andrew's 
music is of a rollicking kind, like that of " Tom the Piper's 

Scene 7. This should open in a balcony of some kind, 
the upper stage of the Elizabethan playhouse. But if we 
have no such thing we must play it on the back stage. The 
Princess comes in with her ladies and the King, and possibly 
a suitor. He who plays the King should be encouraged to 
invent something for himself here, for the King has had all 
too little to do, and we need some little thing from him at 



this point. Presently Andrew's procession is heard and the 
court folk see it before it comes in. They point out to one 
another the amusing variety of the train, and they wonder 
what it is all about. Then, just as Andrew dances in, the 
Princess smiles, laughs, and breaks out into a ripple of delight. 
The procession runs round in its noisy way, the court folk 
applaud the sight and gather about the Princess. She confesses 
to being a-sudden very happy, and sends one to bring the lad 
to her. Andrew drops the goose, and all his following are set 
free. The Host claims his daughters and gives them a scolding. 
The roimd Miller and the long Carpenter stare open-mouthed 
at the King and the Princess, but the Beadle officiously orders 
them to be off. The Parson sinks down with exhaustion, and 
is borne away by the Miller and the Carpenter. Then the King 
announces that this lad has won his daughter's hand according 
to the decree. The Princess speaks a few words of avowal, 
and the boy Andrew makes the final speech. Then they all 
go off while music plays. The conclusion may soimd imconvinc- 
ing. That, however, is not my fault, but that of the story. 
Fairy tales are so incorrigibly romantic ! We have spoken 
throughout of Andrew as a boy, and a boy he certainly is. He 
may seem very young to be betrothed to a Princess ; but I 
cannot say the point worries me.* 

One of the most interesting facts which I have noticed 
about the communal plajrmaking of the juniors (boys between 
twelve and fifteen) is that the boy who is cast for a certain 
part in the first actings, before the play is written is quite 
ready to take it upon himself to live that character, to represent 
himself and his case during discussions, and to see 
that he gets fair treatment. The actor may or may not be 
one of the best writers. But in any case there will always 
be more boys in the class than there are principal parts in 
the play ; and it is useful to encourage all the boys to take 
a special interest in one character or another. This gives 
you a group of plajmiakers to stand up for the right 
of each person in the drama. Jack and his followers will 
then insist upon certain facilities for the character which Jack 

* These doubts and queries could all be solved in an Epilogue to be 
spoken by the Little Old Man of the Woods. 


is representing. Tom and his supporters may insist that the 
King personated by Tom must have a scene to himself at a certain 
juncture. This claim may be put forward simply because Tom 
has made the King an interesting or an amusing character. 
Possibly the admission of the scene demanded would help 
on the plot ; possibly it would be a mere interlude. Those 
who want the scene will of course claim that it is essential. 
If they can make out a good enough case, supporting it by 
sound argument or persuasive demonstration, then Tom and his 
following get their way and the scene is put in. The master's 
duty at the conference is to represent the play as a whole. It 
may drift one way or another. The powers and personalities 
of your first players necessarily condition the trend which 
the playmakers follow. The master mu^t allow a certain 
latitude for this bias and drifting. If he become more than 
a judge, and go so far as to direct rather than to control and 
harmonize these conflicting claims of the various appellants 
then in so far is the play his and not the boys'. 

The prototjrpe of this lively suit among the characters, 
with their claims and counter-claims, is of course the work of 
Shakespeare. There are many scenes in Shakespeare which 
find place simply because sound argument shows them to be 
essential. Such are the expositional dialogues between a 
first and a second lord, as in the opening scene of " Cymbeline " 
and of " The Winter's Tale," and that talk between Salarino 
and Salanio in Act II of " The Merchant of Venice," beginning 
" Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail." 

The demand for an ampler hearing which is supported, not 
by sound argument, but by persuasive demonstration is 
paralleled most perfectly in Mercutio, Sir Toby, and especially 
in Falstaff. Whether the fat knight was needed or not, he 
always came in, and the very sight of him was enough to banish 
sound judgment from the head of Master Shakespeare. Of such 
is the validity of persuasive demonstration. The recognition of 
this lawless influence as a principle in the making of drama may 
offend scholars. But there has not been a scholar yet who could 
conceive how the plays of Shakespeare could possibly be the work 
of one man, imless that scholar were a player-artist too. 

In " The Merchant of Venice " there is a group of young 



Venetians, friends of Bassanio and Antonio. Now let the 
reader imagine that this play, as he knows it, is not yet written, 
but is a story in the hands of his playboys at the stage of fif st 
actings and early discussion. Which of these young Venetians 
is to carry off Jessica, and which of them is to accompany 
Bassanio to Belmont, and which of them shall have the honour 
of opening the play with Antonio and the fun of baiting Shylock 
in the place which is now the opening of Act III ? Readers of 
Shakespeare always look upon these things as already decided ; 
and so they are, of course, now that the play is written. But 
there was a time when Shakespeare himself did not know for 
certain what would happen to all these yoimg men. If the 
story were being wrought into a play by the boys, a number 
of them would be cast simply as " young Venetians," and nothing 
further settled definitely at the time. It would rest very largely 
with the player himself whether he became one of the leading 
characters in the play or a mere walker-on. Observe, then, 
what happens in the supposed case of playmaking by the 
characters themselves in " The Merchant of Venice." 

The chatterbox who calls himself Gratiano takes young 
Lorenzo by the arm and tells him to leave the other two fellows 
to open the play. " And then we'll stroll in later on with 
Bassanio." Our playboys cannot be bothered to distinguish 
those undistinguishables, Salanio, Salarino, and Salerio — ^to 
whom some editors would even add a Solanio. They bunch 
them all together under the collective name of " the Salads." 
Very well, the Salads go on with the man who is to act the 
title-r61e, and they open the play. They do not manage to 
make a very cogent business of it as playmakers. In fact, 
after Antonio has made a begiiming by saying he feels sad, 
all three of them can think of nothing else to talk about but his 
sadness. So much for the first playing of the opening passage. 
Later on, when the scenes are written up, the poets do their 
best to express these commonplace remarks in fine words ; and 
one delights the whole company by bringing to school a purple 
patch about the wind and the sandy hour-glass and the rocks, 

Which touching but my gentle vessel's side 
Would scatter all her spices on the stream. 
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks. . . . 
3)1 « 


This fine passage is given to one of the Salads, and, as 
he is now a speaker of fine words, he is also given the other 
wonderful passage about the argosies with portly sail. I hope 
the reader will catch my meaning. The Salads have no life 
and being, they cannot manage to create a scene for themselves, 
and so the poets give them instead great lines to speak. But 
how different is the case when the chatterbox Gratiano strolls 
on arm in arm with young Lorenzo. The chatterbox has no 
sooner come upon the boards than he shows by quips and jests, 
burlesque and mockery what a real player can make of comments 
upon a man's humour of melancholy. The fine speeches of 
Salarino would be supplied by the poets ; the live speech of 
Gratiano is equally the work of a poet, but it originates in the 
trial acting of a player. Shakespeare was poet and player too 
and we need not suppose that any preliminary actings were 
necessary to aid his imagination. But the playboys have not 
the invention of Shakespeare, and they need all the help they 
can get from one another, A group of average boys can compass 
collectively with ease what would be a marvel of versatility 
in an individual — ^what is, in fact, a marvel in Shakespeare. 

The playboy who is creating Gratiano goes on his merry 
way, and gradually makes his part a living character. There 
is no reason at all why one of the Salads should not rather 
have been chosen to accompany Bassanio to Belmont, except 
the Gratiano has by that time got him a being, while they are 
Still walking on as first and second lords. So he goes there, 
wins Nerissa to wife, becomes one of the central figures at the 
trial, and is one of the principals in the story of the rings. But 
the Salads have so little personality, even by the third act, 
that we go so far as to forget how to spell their names, and 
bring in a " Salerio." 

Lorenzo is another of these young Venetians. He does 
not bring himself into any great life. His share in the play 
throughout is but to fill a part in the story. We may think 
of him perhaps, on reading the finished play, as a lover-fellow 
full of beautiful words. But look you if all his part in the 
fifth act is not simply a gift to him from the plot-managers 
and the poets and the musicians. The plot-managers require 
a scene of some kind to mark tb« passage of time before Portia 



can get back from Venice after the trial. This interval is not, 
however, put in entirely from an artistic regard for the audience 
and their imaginations. It is necessary at this point for Portia 
and Nerissa to get back into their women's weeds, and this 
woiild take some time. While they were changing the first 
time, from women into men, the interval was occupied by 
Launcelot talking nonsense with Lorenzo, which could be 
spun out in patter by the clown to any length, until the boys 
were ready. And similarly, there must be a scene of indefinite 
length here, after the trial, before Portia and Nerissa can enter 
as women again. If the player who is Lorenzo could devise 
anything interesting in connexion with his under-plot, the 
playwrights would give him an ample opportunity at this point. 
But Lorenzo and his playmaking group cannot think of anything 
so the poets are called in to make a love scene. Launcelot is a 
lively player, so he manages to get in a little foolery here. 
But still the plot-managers are not satisfied that all this — 
the love scene and the foolery — will give enough time for the 
two players to turn themselves back from a worthy doctor 
of law and a little scrubbed boy into two fine ladies, so the 
master of music also offers to take a share of this scene. It 
is arranged that the musicians shall go on playing until Portia 
has come in and spoken.* 

These observations upon the minor characters in " The 
Merchant of Venice " will serve to illustrate, then, how such 
a play would have been wrought by the playboys, and how 
each can put in something according to his ability or preference. 
Some lover of Shakespeare who has for many years regarded 

* Note the difference here between Shakespeare's way and that of 
OUT modern playwriters. Shakespeare gives us a nocturne of wonderful 
beauty to fill the space required, and makes his play continuous. The 
modern play-writer (having less sensibility for art-values in his whole 
body than Shakespeare had in his little finger) would drop the curtain 
and suspend all artistic control over the audience for ten minutes or so. 
The lights would go up. The band would play " The Merry Widow " or 
" The Cinema Girl " or some such thing, the men would struggle out to 
get whisky and soda and a little air, the women would eat chocolates and 
fan themselves, and do without air ; and the play would be as dead as a 
stone when the curtain went up again. (Our modern producers of 
Shakespeare give us the interval for refreshment and bad music, and the 
nocturne as well 1) 


the opening of this Act V simply as a beautiful poem, may 
be ahocked at being thus taken behind the scenes. To some 
it will appear false teaching to treat English literature in this 
rude shirt-sleeve manner. But in the eyes of your true player, 
your honest teacher in the Play Way, Shakespeare's poetry 
is of the kind which can be appreciated all the better for a 
knowledge of the conditions which in part occasioned its creation. 

Poetry for me has never been a thing set apart from 
everyday life and work. Those teachers who make it their 
business to treat literature only as a thing to be studied, and 
never new-made ; as some framed thing by a great master, 
hung up for the pupil to appreciate ; who feel that literature 
has a place only in the lecture-room and the library, and is to 
be approached only in the fit attire of a scholar's cap and gown 
in the daytime or in a dressing-gown and slippers at night — 
such men will be shocked at this rude and unscholarly way we 
have of associating literature with things done and things still 
to do ; this shirt-sleeve manner of approach, that will read 
the best books, not only by the quiet lamp on a study table, 
but also by the guttering candlelight of the tiring-house. 
There is yet another possible light in which to read literatm-e. 
It is the too often misleading will-o'-the-wisp lantern borne 
hither and thither by that lover of the preposterous, Robin 
Goodfellow, a knave to all night wanderers, but the very darling 
of simple folk, and a familiar of the fairy king himself. 

The clear distinction between our view and that of our 
scholarly friends is that, while they are content to study 
literature with the boys, we aspire to Tnake it with them. 
According to the spirit of the Play Way, poetry for the playboys 
should be, as it were, an occupation song, at once the inspiration, 
the accompaniment, and the finest expression of their play. 
When our drama has been wrought then it may be written. 
And the same is true of our national history. For those of 
us who have been present throughout the whole process of 
playmaking, the shirt-sleeve period is so intimately a part 
of the work that we cannot truly say afterwards whether we 
love more the literary achievement of our work in the finished 
book of the words, or the piece of our life which is embodied 
in those word* : the flavoiu- of old play which they hold, the 

X 321 


recollection of our doings and dealings behind the scenes, and 
of the traffic of the stage at rehearsals. 

I confess, for my own part, that the lamps and the boards, 
the ropes and tne ladders of the off-stage, the silk and the 
velvet and the braiding of dresses as they hang in the tiring- 
house, the leather of belts and pouches and boots, and the brass 
of sword-handles and trumpets, have for me a fascination 
which cannot be told in ordinary words. I have more than 
once been taken to task for deliberately associating these 
mere accessories with literatm;e. But remember that the word 
literature in school, according to the Play Way, means not 
only the reading of literatiure, but the making of it ; and for 
me these toys are the tokens of play, and play is the token of 
a wider activity. John Earle says of the child, " We laugh 
at his foolish sports, but his game is our earnest, and his drums, 
rattles, and hobby-horses but the emblems and mocking of 
man's business." 

Is it so inconceivable, then, to the reader in his study that 
a playmaker, given an absolute choice between the continued 
existence of one of his finished plays and an equal opportunity 
to make such another like it, would choose to sacrifice the 
finished work and once more engage upon his making ? The 
statement that the period of pla3anaking is a piece out of our 
life is not only my own view. One of our senior playmakers, 
in a prologue which shall presently be quoted more fuUy, says : 

For know. 
The songs we sing, the gods that here we show . . . 
Spring not from print and paper, but present 
Our living work, pur tears, our merriment 
Our new-sprung life, and thence their being hold. 

This is really true ; it is the Play Way of making literature. 
It is because the boys have created the characters in their 
own image, and put themselves into their work, that they can 
act the parts with such a compelling power, and at the same 
time without losing touch with their natural selves. He who 
plays Baldr, the God of Light, can move the onlookers to 
tears without any sentimentality or exaggeration, and without 
for a moment ceasing to be the boy Donald. He who plays 


Loki, the fiend, can make the onlookers shudder at the things 
he says without causing one of them to be shocked ; for we 
know him all the while as our little friend the Squirrel. 
Strange, is it not, that a boy of twelve can walk before you 
in the character of a sublime tragic figure, and stir your emotions 
as they are stirred by the great tragic dramas, yet uttering 
only the speeches which have been made for him by his fellows 
and age-mates ? 

Hodr, the blind God of Darkness, as he gropes on his way, 
speaks almost with the voice of another poet equalled with him 
in fate : 

Lo, I am blind and cannot see the light, 
Black darkness hems me in on every side. 
For me the rising sun salutes the slqr 
With ■wreaths of golden beams, alas, in vain. 
To me, alas, the trees and rivers call 
In vain, for I am blind and see them not. 
But here I stand friendless and all alone, 
I know not whether day is here or night, 
And all the beauties of the spring are lost 
Upon these rolling sightless eyes of mine. 

Strange, is it not, that all the time, however your emotions 
may be stirred, you recognize that this is not the result of 
elaborate coaching, it is no prodigy of artificial performance, 
for the little fellow seems to be speaking as you have known 
him to speak, only with more dignity, more seriousness. 

This was the feeling expressed by the dramatic critic of 
the Daily Telegraph after the production of " Baldr's Death." 
He says : " We do not want children to take play-acting 
play- writing, or any form of emotional excitement, too seriously. 
That is the way to the bottomless pit of sentimentality. But 
it is quite obvious — and this, I think, is the most wonderful 
thing in this method — ^that such dangers have been completely 
avoided. The boys take it all in the way of a game. You 
can feel every moment that they have no illusions about the 
importance of themselves and their plays. Said the author of 
the tragedy (' Baldr's Death ') to his critical master, ' My job's 
woe.' That is the clear voice of sanity. . . ." That is the one 
side, and for the other he says : " The small boys of twelve 



find thirteen who acted the tragedy of ' Baldr's Death,' were 
amazing. Their sublime sincerity, their reahzation of the 
emotions, the manner proper to their divine parts, their utter 
earnestness, left you with new opinions on the imagination of 

The playboys are quite at ease upon the stage. In fact 
one is at pains diu^ng the last rehearsals (in preparation for a 
public performance) to schbol them not to break away from 
their divine parts whenever it occurs to them to make some 
comment or inquiry — ^to ask or suggest, " Wouldn't it be better 
if I did so-and-so ? " After a term or so of active playmaking 
it would even at times be difficult for me to say for certain when 
a boy was speaking in character and when he was speaking in 
his own person, for the little tricks and ways of a lad get into 
his part, and the feelings and sayings proper to a part grow to 
the lad. There are also whimsical ways of quoting, and current 
tags of speech, and even a sort of communal manner of thought 
which always grows up in a company of close friends. After 
a, while it is not possible to be definitely sure whether you 
are in the play or out, whether the figure that accosts you in 
the tiring-house is speaking in propria persona or trying on 
you, to see what you think of it, an addition to his part which 
occurred to him but now on the stage. I do not mean that 
such a blend of boy and part, of player and character, is possible 
under any conditions of " school theatricals " ! No. It is a 
consiunmation devoutly to be wished, but one which is only 
attainable when you as a company are making your own play, 
when the master knows his boys almost as well as their parents 
know them, and when every one can feel that his fellow's heart 
is in the work even as his own. The playmaster at the centre 
of such a play-activity finds himself in a whirl of the real, the 
make-believe, the conventional, and the humorous elements — 
and even if he could disintegrate them, he would not know 
which he best appreciated. 

There is no end to the stories which might be taken for 
playmaking. It is best to take those first which have a 
literature connected with them, so that the boys in writing 
the lines of their play can follow the style of some original. 
Thus the Biblical plays will be written in the Bible style, the 


plays out of Plutarch's Lives will be written in the style of 
Sir Thomas North. For the study of Shakespeare's style as 
a model I would suggest the writing of what might be called 
" Unwritten Scenes in Shakespeare." For purposes of practice 
the boys take some incident which Shakespeare has not shown 
on the stage and write it up for themselves, taking the characters 
of the play as they stand and writing in accord with them. For 
instance, in "Richard II," Act IV, Scene 1, York comes in 
attended by other lords and says : 

Great Duke of Lancaster, I come to thee 

From plume-pluck'd Richard ; who with willing soul 

Adopts thee heir, and his high sceptre yields 

To the possession of thy royal hand. 

Boys who have acted and studied this play might be set 
to write the interview which has just taken place between 
the pathetic figure of Richard and his ineffectual uncle. I 
should put in Northmnberland as one of the lords, for he is 
the most likely man to have brought about the abdication. 

In " Henry V," Act III, Scene 5, Fluellen tells Gower, " I 
assure you there is very excellent service committed at the 
pridge." The boys might write the scene at the bridge, showing 
Exeter, Pistol, Fluellen, and others. This scene might also 
include the death sentence passed by the Duke of Exeter upon 

In " Julius Caesar " many misfortunes befell the conspirators, 
" which was enough to have marred the enterprise." North's 
" Plutarch " tells of three, of which Shakespeare has chosen two, 
namely, the tarrying of Caesar, and the ambiguous words of 
Popilius Lena. The boys might write up the other occurrence. 
" The second cause was, when one came unto Casca being 
a conspirator, and taking him by the hand said unto him : 
' O Casca, thou keptest it close from me, but Brutus hath 
told me all.' Casca being amazed at it, the other went on 
with his tale, and said : ' "Why, how now, how cometh it to 
pass thou art thus rich, that thou dost sue to be ^dilis ? ' 
Thus Casca being deceived by the other's doubtful words, 
he told them it was a thousand to one he blabbed not out all 
the conspiracy." This is the very Casca whom Shakespeare 



has pictured. It should not be difficult for a class of boys 
to show this episode in his career. 

The romances of the Middle Ages give us many stories 
fit for playmaking with a pure and simple style for a model. 
We should naturally place the study of this matter early in 
the course and before the three seventeenth-century styles of 
the Bible, Shakespeare, and North's " Plutarch." We have read 
selections from Malory's " Morte Darthur " * with Littlemen of 
ten, and found it quite the best prose to give them as they 
emerge from the preparatory stage of " readers." With Malory 
go the " Chronicles of Froissart " in the rendering of Lord 
Berners, For their writing the Littlemen at first make ballad 
versions of certain episodes, f and later on they can try their 
hands at the prose itself, or make little plays about the knights 
in rhjnning verse. There is a series of " Arthurian Romances 
unrepresented in Malory " admirably rendered into English 
by Miss J. L. Weston.J One of these is the story of Sir Cleges, 
which we several times began to write as a Christmas play. 
But we had few facilities and precious little time, and this is 
one of the many plays which were never finished. There is 
no space here to tell the story of Sir Cleges, nor to plot out 
the scenes of our projected play, which was to have been called 
" The Cherry Bough." The illustration of a few matters 
connected with playmaking, which have not been discussed 
already, is all om: present limits allow. But the reader who 
will turn to Miss Weston's version of the tale will find there all 
the material his boys will need for one of the merriest and 
most beautiful Christmas plays any man's heart could desire. 
There is in it " the sound of divers minstrelsy, trump, pipe, 
and clarinet ; harp, lute, and guitar," and " on every side the 
voice of singing of carols and of fair dancing." There are 
simple prayers : " Lord Jesu," he quoth, " King of Heaven, 
Who hast made all things of naught, I thank Thee for these 
Thy good tidings." There is a miracle of a cherry bough 
which at this season had " green leaves thereon and cherries 
beside." There is our old friend the Porter at the King's gate, 

* " Selections from the Morte Darthur," by Miss C. L. Thompson, 
t See Perse Playbooks, No. 5. 
t Published by David Nutt. 


a churlish man this time ; and also a false Steward and a 
naughty Usher. There is a Harper who has " journeyed far 
and wide " and now sings before the King the gest of a knight 
— the story of Sir Cleges himself. And for mirth and solace, 
which are becoming to all folk at Christmas-time, there is for 
a finish the sound beating of three naughty servants and a 
great banquet in the King's hall. 

Here is the Prologue to our projected play, as written, 
entirely without help, by a boy of eleven : 

Listen, lordings, -while I tell 

Of a knight who served King Uther well ; 

Sir Cleges of the Table Round. 

No man more courteous could be found. 

So gentle was he and free of hand 

To those had wandered in wasted land. 

To the poor he gave both gold and fee. 

Well loved was he for his charity. 

Sir Cleges' wife was passing fair. 

Right down to her knee fell her golden hair. 

Dame Clarys was that lady hight. 

None bare them ill-will for they ever did right. 

At Christmastide this knight would hold 

A royal feast for young and old, 

In honour of that Maiden mild 

And Jesu Christ her little chUd. 

He held ten years these revels gay 

Till, sooth to say, upon one day 

His goods were spent, his manors gone. 

And scant had he to live upon. 

His men forsook him on every side, 

No nag was left for him to ride. 

One Christmastide Sir Cleges found 

Amidst the snow that lay around, 

A cherry bough with fruit so sweet 

He took them for the King to eat. 

At court he met adventures sore — 

And in the play ye'll hear of more. 

As the Prologue is going out he is met by a band of villagers, 
and the Morris men of Kardyf town. They wish him " A merry 
feast of Yule," and he rephes. 

Good-morrow, gentles, but wherefore this merry music 
Stirring the echoes among the frozen hills ? 



Upon what errand are you bound, good sirs, 
In gauds and bells and all this glad array ? 

They tell him they are bound for the Court to dance before 
the King, and he asks for a taste of their quality. The Morris 
men dance " Glorishears," and then some of the others sing 
the following carol : * 


O, Mary Mother Mild, 
Thou maiden undeilled, 
Didst trust thy Holy Child 
To a lowly manger. 

The oxen standing by 
Looked on with simple eyes, 
And stilled His infant cries 
With a gentle lowing. 

The wise men from afar 
Beheld a guiding star. 
And came with gifts of myrrh 
And a store of spices. 

The night was cold and still. 
And the shepherds on the hill 
Beheld the heavens fill 
With a host of angels. 

The shining angel throng. 
So piffe from sin and wrong. 
Did chant this joyful song 
Of the Infant Saviour. 

" CJoodwill and peace on earth 
Is given by His birth, 
So let all men in mirth 
Praise Him with thanksgiving." 

* Written at a tea-party conference by a group of Ha boys for this 
play. But the master's help in this carol was considerable. We have 
here, I believe, an example of pure collaboration ; since neither the 
master nor the boys could have made this carol alone. The folk-song 
tune, "A Farmer's Son so Sweet," will be found in " Novello's School 
Songs," No. 954. 


We were not afraid to be simple in writing this carol. It 
is too unstudied to read well, and should be heard sung. Mr. 
Sharp's accompaniment to the last verse of the folk-song is 
also especially appropriate to the last verse of our carol. After 
hearing it any one would understand the feelings of the sixth 
Morris man, who says. 

Ay ! that's the song that heartens up a man. 

The Prologue thanks them, and then the leader of the Morris 
says, " Well, masters, we must on." And I fear we too must 
leave these folk, and the play of " The Cherry Bough," to 
speak of other things. 

The Norse Mythology has perhaps gone so long neglected 
in schools because there is no literature connected with it which 
the boys in school could profitably study. So long as school 
method remains a matter of reading and writing only, the Norse 
mythology can hardly find a place above the first form, because 
the master will say he has no time to waste on the mere telling 
of stories. But those teachers who admit the educational value 
of the making and acting of plays will find excellent materia] 
in these old tales. Certainly all English boys should be familiar 
with the myths and legends preserved in Icelandic literature, 
" for it may safely be asserted that the Edda is as rich in the 
essentials of national romance and race-imagination, rugged 
though it be, as the more graceful and idyllic mythology of the 
South." * 

William Morris, in his Introduction to the " Volsunga Saga," 
says, " This is the Great Story of the North, which should be 
to all our race what the Tale of Troy was to the Greeks." And 
Carlyle, in " Heroes and Hero- Worship," says, " To me there is 
in the Norse System something very genuine, very great and 
manUke. A broad simplicity, rusticity, so very different from 
the hght gracefulness of the old Greek Paganism, distinguishes 
this Scandinavian System. It is Thought ; the genuine Thought 
of deep, rude, earnest minds, fairly opened to the things about 

* H. A. Guerber, Introduction to "Myths of the Norsemen." This 
book contains most of the material which boys wfll require. But the 
stories are just briefly told, and the boys will have to work them up and 

shape them- 



them ; a face-to-face and heart-to-heart inspection of the 
things — ^the first characteristic of all good Thought in all times. 
Not graceful lightness, half sport, as in the Greek Paganism,* 
a certain homely truthfulness and rustic strength, a great 
rude sincerity discloses itself here." And again he says of the 
Scandinavian mythology, " Sincerity is the great characteristic 
of it. Superior sincerity (far superior) consoles us for the 
total want of old Grecian grace. Sincerity, I think, is better 
than grace, I feel that these old Norsemen were looking into 
Nature with open eye and soul : most earnest, honest ; childlike 
and yet manlike ; with a great-hearted simplicity and depth 
and freshness, in a true, loving, admiring, unfearing way." 

Surely, then, the stories of the Norse mythology will be 
a fit material for our English boys to play with ; so long as 
we treat them with sincerity. Of course it is not a sincerity 
of belief in the myths which we require of boys to-day ; but 
we do require a sincerity of artistic purpose. If Carlyle is 
right about these old stories where could we fimd a more suitable 
treasury for the playboy ? For he also is " childlike and yet 
manlike ; with a great-hearted simplicity and depth and 
freshness." I believe, if these myths and legends of the North 
were given their right place in school studies, that not only 
would the boys themselves rejoice in their heritage, but in 
due time there would be a corresponding accession to English 

In the writing of our Norse plays, " Thorr's Hammer," 
"Baldr's Death," " Freyr's Wooing," and the unfinished 
" Skadi," the boys were directed to recoimt in passing reference 
as much as seemed appropriate of the mythology. Matthew 
Arnold does this in " Balder Dead," so that his poem as well as 
telling the tale of Balder is quite a reference-book of the myths. 
The boys (Form III, ages from 12 to 14 years) did this well. 
For instance, Thrym at the opening of " Thorr's Hammer " 
finds the Thunder God asleep, and he says, 

Aha I here lies my ancient enemy, 

Old Thorr, the God of Thunder, whom I hate. 

• These words are quoted in commendation of the Norse mythology, 
and not in any disparagement of the Greek. But I do not believe Carlyle 
intended anything derogatory to the one in extolling the other. 





He ravages my land and kills my men. 
Here is his hammer Miolnir which he wields 
Against my people in the land of giants. 

In fact the whole of Thrjon's opening speech is divided 
between the necessary dramatic exposition and explanations 
of the words Miolnir, Asgard, and Giantland. A moment later, 
when old Thorr is making a fuss over the loss of his giant- 
crushing hammer, he also gives information about the Norse 

O 1 if I find the thief, 
His bones shall rot in the surrounding sea, 
The prey of Jormundgandr, the great snake 
Whose monstrous coils encircle the whole world. 

The members of the audience might well be startled at this 
terrific word Jormv/ndgandr if Thorr were not, even in the 
moment of wrath, considerate enough to explain what he is 
talking about. Freyja's falcon-robe is also explained by 
Loki when he borrows it ; and Thorr's belt when he returns 
that to him. Runic signs are mentioned twice by Thrym, 
and although the accuracy of what he says is doubtful, Thrym 
at any rate makes plain what he means by the use of runes. 
In " Frejrr's Wooing " the Boar " Golden-bristle," which is an 
attribute of Freyr the God of Summer, becomes the theme of 
the comic interludes. Beggvir, its keeper, who has managed 
to lose the beast, says, in reply to his wife's horror-stricken 
inquiry for " the master's sacred Boar," 

I mean the pig, the blessed, blessed pig ! 
I used to be the butler to a god, 
But now I am promoted from that place 
To be a beastly swineherd. Mucky job. 
And now I've lost the pig, so I am nought. 
I would I'd never seen the animal. 

And Beggvir goes on to complain of the strange partiality 
among the gods for pets, thus putting in a humorous reminder 
to the young students of mythology of the attributes of certain 

of the Msa. 

Why in the world must every god 
Have some such pet to give us folk hard work ? 
My master keeps a pig ; his sister, cats. 
Othinn has ravens, Thorr his team of goats. 



Skimir, in the same play, is given a sword, a shield, an apple, 
and a ring. The sword is important in the mythology because 
Freyr, having presented it to Skimir on this occasion, has no 
weapon with which to defend himself at Ragnarokr. The 
authors of the play have made clear all that should be known 
about the sword, and Draupnir is explained to Gerda thus, 

If you consent, he seals it with this ring. 

'Tis Draupnir from which every ninth night drop 

Eight others, each as precious as the first. 

Iduna's golden fruit is explained in the space of one line in 

" Skadi," as 

The golden apples of eternal youth, 

Skirnir's shield does not come directly out of the mjrthology. 
It is accounted for in this way. Freyr sends his man Skirnir 
to woo the maiden Gerda and gives him the sword for himself, 
and Draupnir and some of Iduna's golden fruit with which 
to tempt the maiden. But when Freyr lapsed again into a 
lover's reverie Skimir drew nigh and stole the reflection of his 
master's face from the surface of the pool into which he was 
gazing. With this picture in his drinking-horn Skimir was 
far more confident of success than in the possession of the other 
gifts. But as Snug would say, " You can never bring in a 
pool." So the boys put their heads together, and after actor, 
property-master, plot-manager and poet had each contributed 
his share of the work the passage stood ready for print thus : 

Skimir. Who is the maiden that hath moved thee so ? 
Freyr. Her name is Gerda, daughter to Gymir's wife. 
Go thou to woo her, and if thou dost succeed. 
My magic sword shall evermore be thine. 

Gives sward. 
And take thou one of Iduna's golden fruit. 

Gives appk and ring. 
And magic Draupnir, and lay them at her feet 
If she consents to be my wedded wife. 

Freyr looks down into his shield on the floor. 
Skimir. See, as he gazes on his burnished shield. 
The fair reflection of his wistful eyes. 

Takes shield and looks in. 
By summer's sun ! This is for more puissant 
To charm the lovely Gerda than Draupnir, 


Or twenty thousand of these other gifts. 
Come on with me, thou art my chiefest charm. 
May fortime favour me in this exploit ! 

To be quite accurate, it must be said that actor, property- 
master, plot-manager and poet, in the making of this play, 
were all one and the same boy — ^age thirteen. Other actors and 
poets had a share in the work, but this passage at any rate 
is entirely his own. To make the play this boy first imagined 
himself as Skirnir. Then he made the scheme of the play and 
gave Skirnir a good part. Then he wrote the scenes, more or 
less in outline. Then in a few gatherings out of school, the 
boy poets (of whom he was one) refined and perfected his rough 
lines, and made his lean speeches fat. Here is one of the 
speeches of Freyr in love. 

Her arms are whiter than the palest lily 
That ever fading spring brought forth to fill 
The lonely vale with honey-laden breath. 
And while she paused, like to a stately swan 
Borne on the sUver surface of a lake, 
A motion visible invisible drew on, 
Took her away, and left me sorrowing. 

The above passages have been quoted mainly to illustrate 
how references to mythology can be brought in and made 
self-explanatory, either in a serious passage or in a humorous 
one. The references and their explanations do not read as 
excrescences because they are bom and bred in the play. These 
little lessons in the subject-matter of mythology are, in fact, 
more of a piece with the dramatic form in which they appear 
than are the long conventional similes of a piece with the epic 
form in which they appear. In the longer passage which is 
quoted next, a scene from " Baldr's Death," the reader is asked 
not only to notice the self-explanatory references to the 
mythology, but also to remember those other matters of 
workmanship and qualities of style which we have recommended 
should be taught to boys in connexion with their playmaking, 
and which we have maintained they are able to understand 
and to practise even at the age of thirteen — namely, in craft, 
to put the " scenery " and " the stage directions " into the 
lines, that is, to wrap up all the action and the gestures of the 



characters in the words given them to speak ; for style to 
write poetry ; and in the whole spirit of the undertaking to 
maintain a sincerity of artistic purpose. If the reader cannot 
find all this exemplified in the following scene from " Baldr's 
Death," then playmaking as a method of teaching literature, 
both the learning and the making of it, is not what I think it is, 
and my case is lost. 







Now after passing through these grassy glades 
To this wild spot I come, where nought but rocks 
Confront the eye. O swear, ye mighty rocks. 
That Baldr's sunlit life is safe with you. 
We swear. 

Ye clinging creepers, twined among the rocks, 
Swear that ye will not tear his holy flesh. 
We swear. 

Now all dose-clustering moss, harbour no thorn 
To pierce his foot as he fares sadly by. 
We swear. 

(Going). And yon great eagle towering in the sky- 
Descend, and swear the oath as all have done. Exit. 

Enter Loki. 

Ha ! farewell, Frigg. 

Fail but one thorn to swear, and Baldr dies. 

Let her but miss the least important thing, 

And it will serve my purpose. Curse them all ! 

Now reigns my evil spirit over me. 

For good being crush'd and smother'd in my breast, 

Dies like a wild flower trampled under foot. 

And evil devils cry out for revenge. 

Revenge me for my children's injuries 

I will against these silly simpletons ; 

They who have banished my three children hence, 

Aided by cunning of the underworld. 

Penris the Wolf they boimd with dwarf-wrought chain. 

Shaped on the anvil of the prying elves. 

And Jormungandr, mightiest of my brood, 

They threw into the sea, to wallow there. 

Stirring the deep with his tempestuous tail. 

And Hel, my only daughter, they cast forth 

Down to the misty depths of Niflheim, 

To overlook the tribes of coward dead. 

These wrongs I wiU avenge ; but, hark ! who comes ? 

It is the fatLer of the gods ! Away ! f^t, 


Enter Othinn. 

Othinn. Now must I wake the prophetess who lies 

Among these rocks. Arise, I thee command I 

Wala, Wala, waken from thy grave, 

Where thou hast lain for many a long, long year 

In death's firm grasp ; and answer me one thing. 

For 1 have ridden many nules to-night. 

And passed through many perils by the way 

In search of thee, and now that I have found 

Thy grey stone grave, come lift the mighty slab 

That covers it, and hearken what I say. Waits a moment. 

1 bid thee rise, by the World Ash's root, 

I call thee by thy name, and bid thee rise. Strikes tomb. 

Now by these sacred runes, arise and speak. 

Makes circle with nmic staff. 
By aU the knowledge in the darkening world. 
By all the lore bmied in cave and well, 
Break once thy rock-bound tomb and answer me. 

Tomb curtain opens. Wala rises. 
Wala. (Sings). Who wakens Wala 
Untimely, from her tomb ? 
Woe to him who wakens Wala 
Ere the day of doom. 
Long have I lain in my lonely bed. 
Stir not the silence of the dead. 

Waken not Wala 

As thou lovest light. 

To the one who wakens Wala, 

From the deeps of the night, 

Shall be foretold the fate to befall 

The light-giving Baldr, beloved of all. 

Othinn. O Wala, tell me who the stir is for 

In Hela's drear domain. Whose gorgeous seat 
Is that bedeck'd with rings and amulets ? 
Say in whose honour stands the banquet there. 
It is for Baldr that the feast is laid, 
And Hel holds revel with attendant sprites. 

Othinn. By whose hand then shall he be forc'd from home ? 

Wala. By darkness shall the light be driven away. 
Who shall avenge this sacrilegious deed ? 
The goddess Frigg shall bear another son 
Whose name is Wali. In one night he'll grow. 
And neither wash his face nor comb his head 
Until his brother's death has been avenged. 
Now, leave me to repose again. 





Otkinn. Farewell. 

Tomb curtain closeg^ 
Now wiU I hie me back unto the gods 
And tell them of the breaking of the tomb. 
Oh, if this prophecy could be revoked, 
How blithely should I hie me back again Exit. 

This is the work of third-form boys aged twelve and thirteen. 
We should like to have discussed certain interesting questions 
connected with playmaking by the older boys, for although 
the sixth-form boys who wrote " The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies " 
were all but scholars of the university at the time, they wrought 
their play as nearly as they could manage on the method followed 
by the younger playboys. But this chapter is already very 
long and it cannot be concluded without a representation of 
the work of our Prologue. This is, so far as my present claims 
go, the finest instance of poetry as it can be made in connexion 
with playmaking in schools. 

This Prologue is the work of a sixth-form player. The 
lines not only express a hearty feeling of kinship with the brave 
gods of old, but they indicate with no hesitating voice a belief 
in the stimulus which these tales can give to literature and to 


The Beadles draiv the curtains apart, and Prologue advances. 

Prologue. Fair greeting, friends, and may you find to-night, 
Here in our haU, an hour or so's delight. 
But first be warned, that such of you as looks 
Upon the world and man only through books. 
And not himself ; such as will never turn 
His hand to toil by which to live and learn 
As others do : be far from hence : he'll find 
In what we bring, but little to his mind 
Or understanding : ours not to read, but do. 
Not only dream, but make our dreams come true 
In act and earnest all our days. And when 
Oxu hands, so long withheld, are given again 
Their freedom : when the spade and oar we ply. 
Or wield the hammer, when we steep the dye, 
And practise every craft that men pursued 


While their hands kept their cunning : then renewed 

Indeed, as in some fresh heroic age. 

We'll act our gods with all the world for stage — 

True Players, who all day long and every day. 

Making the years one never-closing play. 

Enact our " Dream of human life." For know. 

The songs we sing, the gods that here we show 

To-night — brave gods unsoured by mortal strife, 

Seen fresh and bold in the clear dawn of life — 

Spring not from print and paper, but present 

Our living work, our tears, our merriment. 

Our new-sprung life, and thence their being hold. 

Think you that they who made those gods of old 

Made them of books ? Nay, sterner stuff were they 

Than such, with scanty time to whUe away 

In dreams. Men of their hands, unused to ease, 

They plowed the hard-bound earth and on the seas 

Fought cold and shipwreck : sought their daily food 

From perilous sea or wild unfriendly wood ; 

Pierced with high winds that swept by night and day 

Their frozen earth, and stung by bitter spray 

On shore and shipboard : till their hard-won years 

Of labour, where scant dreaming-time appears, 

Brought forth the gods, that those unsmiling skies 

Grew bright and wonderful to men's new eyes. 

That barren world divine. 

There is a vigour and gladness in these lines which would, 
have c'elighted the heart of Carlyle. Most of all, perhaps 
would he have welcomed this poet's claim that these gods are 
not dead so long as there are any strong young folk to rejoice 
in them. In an earlier Prologue this poet, after deploring 
" this Iron Age of smoke and steam," had said, 

We would raise up once more on this our stage 

Some shade, some echo of the Golden Age, 

And have one spot at least where you may see 

Man as he is, not as he seems to be ; 

Who, though times change, though fashions rise and £Edl, 

Lives yet unchanging and unaged through all ; 

Who loves and hates, grieves and rejoices still. 

Just as he always did and always will ; 

Still swayed by passion ; still, for all his light. 

Meeting with gods by day and ghosts by night, 

Fond of a song and eager for a fight. 

Y 887 


And in the later Prologue, after showing how the gods 
arose to inspire the minds of the old Norsemen, he says, 

And if to-day 
That morning light seem spent or driven away 
From earth ; or if our stage seem small and bare 
For the brave gods of old to figure there ; 
Yet never doubt, in all their ancient might 
And ageless forms, the gods are here to-night ; 
For though their heaven may seem disturbed and bound, 
And straitened by this hurrying, changeless roimd. 
Though vanished seem that beauty that once gave 
Men's toils a glory to outlive the grave : 
Yet while there's youth to see the earth and skies 
With hopes undimmed and no book-wearied eyes. 
To take delight in toil, still to feel strong. 
To love brave deeds and do them, for so long 
The gods are safe : but when his heart no more 
Delights in sword and hammer, spade and oar, 
When he puts down his tool, hangs up his spear, 
And tales of toil and hardship lose his ear. 
The twilight of the gods indeed is here. 

I have always been carried away by those stirring lines. 
They were first spoken from the stage one night in the spring 
of 1913. Quietly waiting behind the curtains on either side 
stood the whole Littleman company of boy-players, dressed 
for their parts and ready to appear soon as the host of Asgard. 
In front sat row upon row of the inhabitants of this renowned 
city, sleepy old dons and absent-minded scholars from the 
university, commercially-minded business men and shopkeepers 
from the town ; many women and a few children. The Prologue 
in a velvet gown and attended by two little beadles dressed in 
gold and purple tunics and ruffs, appeared before the assembly 
and delivered this stirring prelude — " The gods are here 
to-night." But the people of this city of renown had long 
since made them gods of their own ; and, if they had thought 
at all about the matter, would merely have said, " This poetry 
business is all very well, but . . ." 

Certainly this poetry is not the kind of occupation which 
makes directly for learning, nor is it in any sense the kind of 
business which makes money. But poetry of this character 
does go to the making of men. At the end of the show the 


Epilogue, a boy of twelve, appeared, and with equal ceremony 
delivered his closing lines, 

Our plays are done. To all that you have heard, 

Merry or sad, I add the parting word. 

Here on this narrow stage we act our plays. 

But in a wider field in coming days 

Are sterner toils, real battles to be fought, 

Great steeps to mount, a future to be wrought. 

And if this pageant of our joys and fears 

Has stirred your laughter or called forth your tears. 

Remember, yours is but the passing pleasure. 

Ours the possession of a lasting treasure. 

Long may the gods among their people dwell I 

With that I bow, and bid you all farewell. 

All this was written and delivered in 1913. And when, a 
year later, the wider field showed us that real battles had to 
be fought in a most literal sense, it was proved that the poet- 
players were right. I do not mean this statement in any small 
sense ; I have in mind the wide significance of our Prologue's 
rousing appeal. Boys must be taught. 

To take delight in toU, stUI to feel strong, 
To love brave deeds and do them. 

And then, and only then, will the gods be safe. We musi 
not allow the " tales of toil and hardship " to " lose his ear," 
nor permit him to lose delight in " sword and hammer, spade 
and oar." Masters and boys must never forget that it is 

Ours not to read, but do, 
Not only dream, but make our dreams come true 
In act and earnest all our days. 

And then, whether it be peace or war. 

We'll act our gods with all the world for stage. 

Sincerity of artistic purpose has been mentioned as the desirable 
spirit in which to undertake the representation of these tales 
of the old Northern gods. But I would appeal for a very high 
standard to be set in all playmaking by the boys. We should 
be earnest and serious, not only when we take for our material 
stories which are bound up with an ancient tradition, but in 
connexion with any theme which has in itself some native 



dignity. I would go further, and say that as teachers of 
literature we should resolutely decline to countenance in our 
presence any show upon a school stage which is not sound in 
art and unimpeachable in taste. We should hold ourselves 
responsible as keepers and guardians of a valued tradition, 
and feel in honour bound to insist always upon the finest regard 
for good literary quality in the subject-matter and in the 
treatment of all school plays. 


The photographs in this book show three kinds of costiune for plays. 
The pictures of " the gods," Baldr, Hodr, Loki and Thorr and of Gerda, 
show the dresses worn on the stage for a public performance. It will 
be noted that these players also wear wigs. 

For classroom use something far more simple must be devised. The 
pictures of the murderers and of the witches in " Macbeth " show how the 
boys of the third form furnished themselves a wardrobe. The effect as 
shown here is admittedly absurd. But the reader will observe that the 
second form when acting " Julius Caesar " in the same rough-and-ready 
costume achieved a most satisfactory crowd of stage citizens. (Se 
Illustrations facing pp. 190 and 210.) 

It is well always to have some disguise, however simple, for to change 
the everyday appearance of the actors adds materially to the life of the 
play. But if acting in the classroom be allowed as a regular thing some 
less haphazard maimer of dress is advisable. It is quite easy to have a 
collection of tunics and cloaks in a cupboard near at hand ; and, if 
these are not elaborate, a boy can take off his jacket and dress up for 
the play in less than a minute. 

Plate A shows the very simplest form of stage costume. The 
player was dressed for school in shorts and a jersey. The change was 
effected simply by putting on the ttmic and rolling up his sleeves. This 
tunic is of a particularly useful shape. I have shown it again in several 
other photographs to illustrate the variety of ways in which it can be 
worn. A dozen of these could represent the half of your wardrobe. 

Plate B shows an easy development of the costume. The same 
tunic is worn, with the addition of a cloak and a cap ; and a pair of 
baggy pantaloons are pulled on over the shorts. The pantaloons are 
threaded with elastic at the waist and knees and the timic is similarly 
gathered at the neck. 

Plate C shows how even the tunic can be left out of the scheme it 
the player is wearing a jersey. 

Plate D shows how a player in scout unitorm was transformed into 
a Shakespearean soldier by the simple addition of cloak, hat, and shield. 
This doak is the one worn by Harry the Fifth, and by Anthony in the 

A Herald 

[,Si!C p. 340, Pliite A 

Henry the Fifth 

ISue p. 340, Plate C 


[See p. 340, Pl'iti; )! 

A Shakespearean Soldier 

IScL- p. 340, Platf D 


Forum. It is cut circular and held at the neck by one large coat-button. 
It is ample enough to envelop any playboy, and falls naturally into 
good folds. Being made of rough blue serge it is very serviceable and 
may well outlive generations of playboys. 

Plate E shows again how a tunic alone can satisfactorily disguise 
everyday costiune. The player on the left is in military uniform, and 
having been summoned hurriedly by the mister from his place among 
the onlookers has not even had time to take off his jacket. 

Plate F shows two Belgian playboys in the costume selected by 
themselves in the Mmnmery Tiring-house. Their class was acting the 
story of " The Babes in the Wood," as an extempore play, for practice 
in English. The players asked to be allowed to dress, and as I could 
not be bothered to direct the dressing, I gave them five minutes' 
leave from the stage to do what they could. These two figures are the 
murderers. The one on the left is in military uniform as to his legs 
He has added an orange cloak, originally made for Tyr, the God of War, 
a scoutmaster's hat, a striped waistcoat, and a strip of material from the 
rag-bag for a neck-wrap. The one on the right has taken the red 
Paisley tunic, and tied it about with a sash to serve as sword-belt. A 
battered scout hat and Sir Toby's boots complete his rig. They chose to 
be photographed in these attitudes : the player on the left is saying, 
" By this murder I will get much money for me " ; the other anticipates a 
flow of liquor and says, " Only to drink, to drink. I don't care, only 
to drink." 

Plai'e G. a player who was acting Macbeth suggested that he should 
get a kilt made at home. The photograph shows the costume which 
arrived about a week later. It is very smart, but scarcely suitable for 
Macbeth 1 The player was allowed to wear his kilt, but with tunic, 
cloak, helmet, and sword from ovx Tiring-house. 

" The provision of costimie for classroom plays is a simple matter. 
But if the teacher leaves the boys to get tunics and cloaks made by 
their mothers, the result will naturally be a strange assortment of attire 
representing aU styles and periods. For the making of costumes we 
are indebted to the kindness of parents ; but my system was to go to a 
player's house with materials of my own choosing, and then drape the 
boy this way and that until I hit upon a satisfactory design. Then 
the mother stuck pins here, there, and everywhere, and I left her to 
carry on. This is only a rough-und-ready method of designing costumes, 
but the suggestion may be useful to those who can boast no more skill 
in the craft than myself. 

Materials should be obtained from a theatrical costumier, because 
a draper's stock is not bold enough in pattern and colour for stage 




In the difference of wits I have observed there are many 
notes ; and it is a little maistry to know them, to discern 
what every nature, every disposition will bear ; for before we 
sow our laud we should plough it. There are no fewer forms 
of minds than of bodies amongst us. The variety is incredible, 
and therefore we must search. Some are fit to make divines, 
some poets, some lawyers, some physicians ; some to be sent 
to the plough, and trades. 


There is much to be said in criticism of the subject teacher. 
Perhaps of all the influences which have operated to reduce 
school to its present unsatisfactory position as a repository 
of education this fetish of dividing the whole teaching time 
among a limited number of set subjects is most to be blamed. 

The whole system should be organized on a far wider and 
more practical, basis. We must make it our end to prepare 
boys for life in the world ; and such a preparation to be sound 
must be considered in relation to the world's needs. We 
schoolmasters must not centre our whole thought in the teaching 
of mathematics or science or languages, but must pay more 
heed to the point of view of the man of the world. One of 
the first new studies to find a place would be politics, both 
in the organization of the school and in the teaching. For a 
theory of education if it is designed to be carried out in practice 
at all must have been considered in relation to the social 
conditions of its day. Schoolmasters of to-day are always 
expected to keep their politics out of their teaching. The 
wisdom of this counsel may be admitted, so long as " politics " 
means nothing more intellectual than a narrow and prejudiced 
partisanship, a blind belief in one or other of the self-seeking 


cliques who conspire to take turn about in governing the country. 
But even to-day there are many to whom " politics " means 
something wider, some regard for the State more befitting 
the dignity of an honest and intelligent man. 

Surely schoolmasters should take a leading part in the 
education of public opinion, to put an end to the criminal 
farce known to-day as "politics," and to train the future 
electorate to understand their duty to themselves and to the 

If the boys now facing you in school are to be educated 
for hfe, trained to cope with the difficulties and to realize 
the duties which will confront them in the modern world, then 
the system on which our schools are organized must in the 
first place be wrought in keeping with the social and economic 
conditions which obtain at the present time, and, further, both 
schoolmasters and their pupils must have an understanding, 
a very real and practical understanding, of the state of public 
affairs, if they are to act rightly as citizens. 

What if there should one day be a school in which the boys 
of fifteen and upwards took a real interest in public affairs, 
and held clear views on current events such as strikes, lock-outs, 
factory bills, and insurance proposals — views which were not 
only independent of the newspaper leaders, but for the most 
part right contrary to such party influence ? Perhaps you 
will say, " There never will be such a school." And you may 
be right. But if these things do not come about, it will be 
because parents and school governors remain too narrowly 
partisan to permit boys to be educated on such lines, and not 
because boys of fifteen are unable, in their way, to understand 
State affairs, nor because masters are not available to teach 
them such things. If the teaching of modern history extended 
to the year 1914 — as it certainly should, since that year was the 
culminating-point of many influences and tendencies which 
have been operative for many decades past — ^then, unless 
the teaching were a mere sham, the observant and thoughtful 
boys would apply their knowledge of politics and economics 
(elementary though it might be) to the events of the current 

The study of ancient and modern history, of constitutions, 



of peoples and their government in the past, of laws and 
customs, of rights and duties — all these should be but a 
background to the intelligent understanding of the peoples and 
the government and the constitution of the present day. Is 
it not ridiculous that boys of sixteen to eighteen should be 
taught to write essays on the constitutional and popular 
history of Greece, Rome, France, and Stuart England, and yet 
be unable a few years later to vote with any independence or 
intelligence as British citizens ? 

Lest any teacher should feel that his pet school debating 
society is here being rudely passed over, I may say that, to 
the best of my knowledge, even the good speakers at school 
debating societies do no more than reproduce in dilute form 
the bribed opinions of the party newspapers, or build upon 
facts and statistics which have no better authority than the 
" Daily Mail Year Book." 

Boys must be taught to imderstand as clearly as possible 
the conditions of this present world in which they live. There 
can surely be no division of opinion on such a point. It seems 
to me just plain common sense. Many others agree, and there 
is actually in existence a school subject known as " Civics." 
But " Civics " generally begins with a study of the policeman 
and the fireman, goes on to a tame investigation of municipal 
affairs, considered as a matter of parks, trams, and the water-rate, 
and peters out among the machinery of party government and 
the passage of a bill through parliament. Rarely, if ever, does 
" Civics " deal fully with the problems we have always with 
us, poverty, unemployment, women in industry, overcrowding 
in cities, and the other social evils apparently inseparable 
from the wage system. Never does " Civics " lay bare all 
the wire-pulling and log-rolling of the party system, with its 
" Hobson's choice " elections, its secret party funds, and its 
corrupt sale of " honours." 

Schoolmasters like to read of these intrigues and to discuss 
among themselves what is rotten in the State. In common 
with other men they find some relish in the wickedness of 
those in great place, but they will not stir themselves to cleanse 
public life of its evident scandals. As teachers, they find 
that the past appeals to them as a more fit subject of study. 


Why is this ? I believe this is but an example of the teacher's 
limitations. The past is already surveyed for him, its tendencies 
made clear, its characteristics summarized and set in order 
for his studious eye. Life has been interpreted and set down 
in books. He can read those books, and he can expound their 
lessons to his pupils. But he cannot, or will not, read life 
itself. He goes aside from the moving crowd, and retires to 
some quiet place, taking his pupils with him. There he will 
not give them any training in what they will soon have to face, 
but he will teach them about life in other days (nobler days, 
he always feels, because those men did something, but modern 
men are only trying to do it !) and presently he will drop his 
pupils one by one into the troubled stream of contemporary 

None of us, of course, can read the lesson of current life 
surely enough to lay down the law ; to say, " This is, that 
must follow." But education does not consist entirely in 
laying down the law. Sometimes a teacher and his pupih 
may study some matter on equal terms, some matter in which 
the teacher is not already primed with all the necessary 
information. And many teachers would benefit by the study 
in school even of some matter of which the pupils knew more 
than the teacher. Docendo discimus is not true only of school- 
masters but of pupils also. 

Many of the noblest-minded of our schoolmasters in this 
evil commercial age have set their faces dead against the 
tendencies and influences which have been swaying the world 
of men outside the walls of their schools. But, though we 
honour them for their noble intentions, we cannot admit 
that this attitude has caused any noticeable change in the 
conduct of the outside world. That is the trouble with 
schoolmasters all through. When men criticize us as un- 
practical and unworldly, we are apt to make some haughty 
reply, more than half suggesting that the practical is ignoble, 
that to be worldly is to be sordidly commercial ; and some- 
times, I fear, even implying that only theoretical study requires 


We claim, and rightly in my judgment, that the arts and 
the nrofessions are on a higher intellectual plane than trade 



and commerce. But then, in defiance of all logic and common 
sense, we proceed to teach (theoretically) the elements of 
some of the arts and professions to all boys who are sent to 
us, although most of them, as we must admit, will be driven 
by choice, ability, or social necessity into trade and commerce. 
Such procedure helps neither theoretical study nor practical 

Modem education having no clear aim can reach no definite 
end. Some schools cater for a few specialist boys, some masters 
pay particular attention to particular boys, and so work with 
a definite end in view. But no school caters for all its boys 
with equal justice ; and most teachers, charged with the 
education of boys of all the various powers and attainments 
spoken of by Ben Jonson in the words we have quoted, simply 
look to no goal at all. Owing to the limitations of the classroom 
system they cannot hope to educate each boy as he should be 
educated, and so they simply go on teaching a subject week 
in and week out to all comers. In the end they are not worried 
about those whom they teach, and they cease to think why 
they teach this or that subject. The slow suffocation of the 
soul of Johnny Jenkins they do not observe, and the gradual 
paling of that spark of initiative once so characteristic of young 
Dick is not noticed. The futility of throwing cube root, 
specific gravity, oratio obliqua, isotherms, prosody, and 
paradigms at unreceptive heads has not occurred to many 
teachers. Or, if the futility of the undertaking becomes 
from time to time too apparent to be missed, then wrath is 
potired out upon the boys. " What on earth is the good of 
trying to teach this to you ? " shouts the master. The boy 
does not know the answer, and would not be suffered to reply 
if he did. So we may answer for him. This question asked 
by the angry teacher is, look you, a rhetorical question, 
intended to imply the answer, " It is no use, sir, for we are 
dolts." But let us suppose the angry teacher to add, " I 
pause for a reply." Then the chorus of citizens shall take 
up the cue, and shout " None, Brutus, none ! " 

In other words, a teacher brought to exasperation by 
the futility of trying to teach, say " oratio obliqua " to a 
class found mentally unfit to learn it should first of all count 


ten, and bethink him the while what is his aim in teaching 
at all. If his aim is to teach, at all costs for the boys' sake, 
then obviously he must give up teaching Latin to these boys 
if they are not capable of learning it. If, on the other hand, 
his aim is to teach Latin at all costs, then obviously he must 
give up these boys if they are not capable of learning it. 

But fortunately for the present geners^tion of schoolmasters 
the choice is not really an absolute one between teaching all 
boys and teaching one's subject. Even now in schools it is 
possible to teach one's special subject to special boys, and still 
to teach the rest something else of valtie. This possibility of 
having a hand in the education of boys other than one's 
specialists, this chance of guiding, training, and sharing the 
interests of all kinds and degrees of boys — ^including the dear 
dullards, who are often the most delightful companions — ^is 
very precious to some of us. Here the form master, the games 
master, the scout master, and the house master have undeniably 
the advantage over the special or subject master — ^not only 
the advantage of a wider fellowship and a fuller understanding, 
but also a distinct educational advantage. 

Yet one feels at times that those subject teachers who cannot 
see anjrthing notable in the boys they cannot teach, and who 
cannot take any interest in the unscholarly boys, are perhaps 
to be envied their peace of mind. For in truth they do not 
lie awake o' nights to worry out some consecutive relation 
between boys in school and men in the world. The life of the 
subject master, apart from these occasional outbursts of " What 
is the use ? " must be very restful. 

Some of the best schoolmasters have set themselves to 
inspire their pupils with noble ideals and to fill them with 
the spirit of the finest achievement in literature. But in 
respect of the living world outside they have at most 
expressed grave warnings, or taken refuge in the petulant 
complaint, " What influence can we hope to have in an 
age so eaten up with commercialism ? " The answer, of 
course, is that we can hope to have no influence so long as 
we neglect to make any application of the studies we teach. 
We teach mathematics, history, geography, science, languages, 
and literature, and we are ready at all times to prove that 



these studies are of value. But we rarely trouble to show 
how that value can be translated into terms of life. We make 
no obvious and sure connexion between a school of studies 
and a world of deeds. 

In consequence of this unpractical attitude we schoolmasters 
are still the laughing-stock of men of the world, or at best 
our efforts are regarded with mere indulgence. Parents who 
feel that their son at school is not getting any adequate 
equipment for his after life in the world are apt to regale 
themselves with the grumble, " Well I know / never learnt any- 
thing useful until after I left school." By " useful," of course, 
they too often mean " money-making." But that retort does 
not go to the bottom of the complaint. Those schoolmasters 
who find the average parent's standpoint vexing should 
recognize that there are two sides to the question. They should 
remember that the parents often find the schoolmaster equally 
obstinate and unconvincible. You tell yom- Mends that a 
boy's father is only anxious that his son shall be taught how to 
make money. But the boy's father goes home and tells his 
friends that his son's teachers are such unpractical dreamers 
as to think that education consists in filling a boy up with 
Latin grammar and algebra and poetry, and stuff like that. 
Of coiu-se neither of these statements is fair to the other side. 

It is one of the chief claims of the Play Way that it could 
bring these two opposing points of view together and give 
good satisfaction to both. The world of busy men is too 
commercially-minded, the world of scholars is too wrapped up 
in abstract studies. That the mere commercialist is the very 
devil I grant you, but for little boys the scholar with all his 
learning represents a very deep sea. 

That form of agreement which disappointed extremists 
bitterly call an empty compromise is often a just and proper 
settlement, which has resulted from reducing the exaggerated 
claims on both sides to their due place and proportion. I 
believe the Play Way will prove such a true settlement in 
educational reform. If we can get the ail-too- worldly merchant 
away from his counting-house, and the all-too-unworldly 
(yet not necessarily more spiritual) pedant away from his 
books ; if we can get the merchant to appreciate value and the 


pedant to appreciate use, then we shall have made a contribution 
of no small weight to education, and eventually to ethics. 

But this service to man is not to be rendered by the writing 
and reading of such books as this. It were a most treasonable 
act in any player to suggest such a thing. This book is first 
and last an appeal for action, and only in so far as the appeal 
results in action can this book be held of any real value. 

Of all the education which a boy needs, and somehow 
manages to acquire, the most part is picked up out of school 
and not in it. To remedy this, a school must be a little world 
in itself, where boys might learn under tuition the general lines, 
both in theory and practice, of what they will have to do actually 
and on their own account when they leave school and go out 
into the world. As schools are run in these days nine boys 
out of ten at once drop all their school studies on leaving school 
No one will deny this, and, surely, such a realization must give 
us pause.* 

If school studies and life in the world of the present day 
cannot be made so to overlap and intermingle that they may 
be considered truly consecutive, there must be something 
wrong. Which end is wrong ? Both perhaps. I agree that it 
is so. Both school studies and everyday life in the world are 
being wrongly conducted. But the schoolmaster's remedy 
does not lie in piling on more and still more of this instruction 
in unworldly subjects, however great may be their intrinsic 
worth. The remedy lies in reforming our schools in such a 
way that the good we teach will be immediately put into 
practice, first diu"ing schooldays, and then after schooldays, 
for the betterment of that misguided outside world. 

A community whose land is flooded is not in need of lectures 
on agriculture. You will do them better service if you go 
down and show them how to drain their flooded land than if 
you stand up in the town hall on the hill and go most keenly 

* The criticisms in this chapter are mainly destructive. Apology 
must be made for the lack of positive suggestions for reform. All 
these were embodied in the cancelled chapter, but in brief outline 
only. It is now my hope that the whole may yet be worked out in 
greater detail, and a constructive scheme put forward for the complete 
organization of a Play School Commonwealth. 



and most carefully into botanical lore and the statistics of 
stock and crops. 

The school course of to-day in England is of no direct and 
immediate use to the world. School teaching is too exclusively 
literary ; social life is too exclusively practical. There is no 
bridge from the one to the other, and consequently a boy on 
leaving school falls between two stools. He has always to 
start afresh. 

Is this statement too extreme ? Does it require qualification ? 
Very well, I will admit that there are exceptions. But I also 
submit that it is a very feeble defence of an educational system 
to say that " It is a jolly good thing for the exceptions." 

A critic replies that those boys whom I call the exceptions 
{those who carry on into later life the scholarly pursuits begun 
in school) are in his estimation worth a whole theatre of others. 
It is better, he says, to teach the very essence of a subject to 
a fit audience, though few, than so to lower yom- standard for 
the less able boys that the subject taught loses all its virtue. 
Here is a fine state of affairs. Behold here again the devil 
and the deep sea ! Either the majority must be sacrificed 
that the few may get the full value out of a subject, or 
the best of the subject must be sacrificed in the interests 
of the many. 

As this is a difficulty which must in the long run confront 
all schoolmasters who know the full value of the subjects they 
teach, it will be worth while to look into it more fully. 

Every schoolmaster engaged in teaching boys old enough 
to learn what is known as a " subject," as distinct from the 
general preliminaries of the preparatory school, finds before 
long that in a class of some twenty-five boys he has a scale 
of such varying abilities that he cannot teach all the boys 
alike. This difficulty is not so pronounced at the very top 
of the school, because it is only the selected spirits who ever 
get there. The weaker brethren have fallen by the way — 
generally into " father's office " or a " commercial college." 
But all those masters who have to teach subjects to boys 
between the time when they are divided off into " classical " 
and " modern " (or sheep and goats — or whatever the idle 
dichotomy may be) and the time when they leave the fifth 



form find themselves confronted with this difficulty of varying 
standard and ability in their pupils. 

A short time ago I asked some twenty or thirty secondary 
schoolmasters whom I met in various places, " To how many 
boys of an average class do you actually succeed in teaching 
your subject ? " I made it plain that by " teaching a subject " 
I simply meant getting enough of the real thing into the boys' 
heads to make it worth while undertaking the business at 
all. Most of these teachers, after a little beating about the 
bush, claimed to teach their subject in this sense to some 
four or five out of the twenty-five of an average class ! One 
or two cynical scholars replied, "Two — ^possibly." But one 
thoroughgoing fellow, a teacher of chemistry, actually claimed 
to teach the whole class, every one of the twenty-five. Incre- 
dulous, I asked him, " Do you really teach them all ? " And 
he replied, " Yes, I make a point of keeping them all going 
hard. But, mind you, I don't pretend to teach them any 
chemistry ! " 

This man is a thoroughly efficient classroom teacher. 
His own education is based upon a beginning in an elementary 
school, so he prefers " to keep them all going hard " rather 
than to teach chemistry to the two or three boys at the top. 
He went on to complaim that a certain form, my especial 
Littlemen (who had written scores of poems and ballads and 
prose studies, had acted plays with some success and had 
achieved, according to my view, some progress at the age 
of twelve in the practice of self-government) — he complained 
that these boys had no sense of discipline at all, would not 
think, were frightened of hard work, and in fact could only 
be instructed at all under a most rigorous system of repression. 

*' It is a pity, perhaps," said he, " to bully the poor fellows, 
but you can't do anything else if you mean to get any work out 
of them." 

" Oh, yes, you can," I said. " They work splendidly on the 
Play Way." 

Then he said, " Pish," or something like that, and we went 
our several ways. 

Most teachers soon abandon all hope of treating the twenty- 
five feoys as twenty-five individuals. Thev recognize that 



their choice is between alternatives, either the master must 
push on with the best boys — which would mean pushing out 
of sight with one or two — and neglect the majority ; or he 
must retard the whole class to keep pace with the sediment — 
that which always sinks to the bottom. Neither alternative 
is satisfactory, because, as I have said, " Either the majority 
are sacrificed that the few may get the full value out of a 
subject, or the best of the subject is sacrificed in the interests 
of the many." It is a difiicult problem. 

What a pity it did not occur to us long ago that we might 
just as well expect one boy to be equally adept at twenty-five 
subjects as expect twenty-five boys to be equally adept at 
one. It is an impious thing to say that boys who are 
" weak " in one or two or even three school subjects are 
" weak " boys. Boys do of course vary in power and in 
aptitude ; but the limitation which confines advantage to the 
few and prevents the majority from excelling is not, look 
you, a limitation of ability in the boys, but a limitation of 
adaptability in the teachers. 

However faulty may seem the reforms suggested in this 
book, however inadequate may appear our plans for giving 
scope to the individuality of a number of boys, nothing surely 
could be conceived in educational method so inadequate, so 
pitiably piecemeal, as the classroom system of teaching stttjects 
which has landed us in this dilemma. Our present educational 
system has been centuries in the making ; time enough, one 
would have thought, for experience to have evolved, by 
innumerable readjustments, an all-but-perfect system. Yet in 
this present time it is possible to suggest some obvious reform 
in almost every branch of method. Just before the war new 
proposals of every kind were being put forward. We heard of self- 
governing commimities, self-teaching, wider curriculum, greater 
choice of subjects, and new methods in music, dancing, acting, 
history, mathematics, geography, language teaching, nature 
study — ^in fact there were suggestions, and revised suggestions, 
for the improvement of every side of school life. But they 
made no perceptible difference. Boys and girls are stiU penned 
in the stocks, twenty-five to sixty of them at a time, to be 
spoon-fed on the same subject by the same teacher. Iimovations 


are always welcome to teachers so long as they displace nothing 
and leave the sacred classroom system untouched. 

The educational system has in fact not been evolving at 
all, it has been congealing. And now it has become clogged, 
stuck fast. The educational system has ceased to be educational. 
Consequently we cannot look for reform through minor adjust- 
ments. The suggested improvements of which we have heard do 
not go to the heart of the matter. We must have an upheaval. 

Those who still put their faith in subjects, those who are 
convinced that schools exist for the teaching of Latin or French 
or chemistry or English poetry, rather than for the training of 
Johnny Jenkins and young Dick, will of course for many years 
to come continue to teach their subjects to the best boys they 
can find, ignoring the rest. But those who feel dissatisfied with 
this system, those who agree with me that our schools are not 
providing for the great majority of boys an education anything 
like commensurate with their needs or their abilities, are asked 
seriously to consider whether it is not essential that we should 
give up trying to improve this sytem, and decide to abandon 
it, and start out on new lines. 

Do but consider the special subjects in which most of the 
school hours are now spent. We have languages taught 
by the hour which are rarely, and in many cases never, 
spoken. We have weighing, measuring, counting, and calcu- 
lating done for the most part on paper. We have indoor 
geography, sedentary history, the master often doing more 
than the pupil. In all this the wretched pupil is deceived 
into mere watching where he ought to see, and listening when 
he shoiild be free to hear. 

When I heard the learn'd astronomer, 

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide and 

measure them, 
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much 

applause in the lecture-room, 
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick. 
Till rising and gUding out I wander'd off by myself, 
In the mystical moist night air, and from time to tim« 
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.* 
* Walt Whitman. 

Z 858 


Let us then give due thought to the sprinkled heavens in our 
teaching of astronomy, to the teeming earth in our teaching of 
geography, and to the Ufe of man in our teaching of history. 
As we are specialists in these subjects we shall have in our 
possession many proofs and figures, many lists, systems, columns, 
and vocabularies. But we are to ask ourselves whether it is 
not right to forgo most of these charts and diagrams until 
at least the pupil has felt the wonder and the majesty of those 
great regions which knowledge sets out to conquer. 

Look how the floor of heaven 
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold ; 
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st 
But in his motion like an angel sings, 
StUl quiring to the young-ey'd cherubins : 
Such harmony is in immortal souls ; 
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it. 

We know of course that a boy must end in the office or the 
engine-room or the fields, as his ability shall dictate or his 
chance determine. And in consequence some teachers would 
bid us look to what they consider practical considerations and 
leave the poets to their dreaming and star-gazing. But this 
is simply begging the question. The specialist masters of our 
secondary schools, those who lecture on, and set exercises in, 
Latin, French, mathematics, history, geography, and science, are 
not practical men ; they are merely limited. If any one will 
think of the world of men in connexion with such teachers he 
will see that they are but training their pupils to see life 
fitfully and see it piecemeal. History shows that most of the 
educational reformers have been men of spirit, imagination, and 
energy rather than men of learning. And even when they were 
scholars they carried their learning lightly. For teachers 
of boys we do require men of learning, but not speciaUsts 
in learning ; we require rather those men who are specialists 
in boys. That is to say, the charge of education should be 
m the hands of educators. We require men of insight and 
understanding, men of imagination, men with a good knowledge 
of affairs. Not the professor, but the artist is your true 


Let us, therefore, refrain from stufiing all comers indis- 
criminately with the subject in which we ourselves are most 
learned. Let us regard our pupils as individuals, and train 
their innate power along its natural course of development, so 
that we may have in education growth instead of manufacture, 
training instead of instruction, and be always encouraging rather 
than piuiishing, guiding rather than goading. Thus, instead of 
alienating their sympathies more and more from all that we hold 
good, and finding in most of our pupils an unwillingness to 
profit by our teaching, we " might in a short space gain them to 
an incredible diligence and courage : infusing into their young 
breasts such an ingenuous and noble ardor " as would make of 
every pupil who passed under our care from childhood to 
stripling manhood a missionary to carry nobler ideals and 
ambitions to the outside world. 

Is it not the concern of teachers that public opinion has 
now for many years rotted in a money-poisoned condition ? 
Is it not our business as honest incorruptible teachers to consider 
a remedy for money-poisoning ? K you have observed that 
most of the people of England are too poor to give fair thought 
to anything beyond ensuring the necessaries of life, is it not 
your business as an educator to seek out and support some 
plan which will ensure a fairer distribution of security and 
leisure V * Or have you not yet realized what it means for 
the life of our nation that the poor have no secure leisure, 
simply because the return (or shall we not rather say the price ?) 
of their labour is barely sufficient to keep them in a condition 
to go on labouring ? If you have regretted the total absence 
of good taste in modem life, and have felt the accusation of 
row upon row of horrid villas, of impossible sitting-rooms 
full of jim-crack " ornaments," of dirty back courts and alleys, 
of ragged clothing on the one hand or tawdry dressiness and 
fiuery on the other— if you have felt really angry at the jobbery 
of the newspapers, at the vulgarity of advertisements, and 
(on a people's festival) at the glaringly hollow amusements 

* I refrain from discussion here, because it opens up the whole 
question of economics and home politics. The reader, however, is 
referred for a constructive economic solution of present political troubles 
to " National Guilds," edited by A. R. Orage. (G. Bell & Sons.) 



of a bank-holiday, will you not recognize the inraiediate need 
of a social and economic reform ? Or do you seriously believe 
that current "politics" has nothing to do with education, 
and that your duty to the State and to your fellow-citizens has 
been creditably discharged when you have spent five or six 
hours a day in stuffing cube root, specific gravity, oratio obUqua, 
isotherms, prosody, and paradigms into the imreceptive heads 
of Johnny Jenkins and young Dick ? 

We appeal to the overieamed schoolmasters of the public 
schools to consider that education must recognize a closer 
connexion between the life and work of the Littlemen at their 
desks and the life and work of their fathers in offices and 
behind counters, and in fields, factories, and workshops. And 
we ask the more sympathetic teachers of the elementary schools 
to consider whether all the love and labour they spend upon 
their little people can have the least effect upon those same 
children when they shall have grown up into men and women, so 
long as the majority of men and women are of necessity living 
right contrary to such teaching. Social environment outside 
the walls of your school is not only an influence worthy of 
your consideration, it is in truth the most potent factor in 
general education. And when the course of your instruction 
has come to an end and your pupil goes out into the world, 
what can he make of the world ? Nothing. The world makes 
him. He can do nothing against such an all-surrounding 
influence. If you have given him an ideal course of education 
and he has profited by it, he may protest in words ; but, if 
he is to live, he must eventually give way in deeds. 

The teachers in our schools, both of primary and of secondary 
grade, must not be content to spend their effort as instructors 
in various subjects which are rarely learned, and never by any 
chance put to use for the betterment of social life ; but must 
take up the real charge of education as the responsible governors 
and teachers of young England. If not, we shall find, after 
the war, that we are in for another stretch of years under the 
domination of the money-god, that king who sits all day in 
his counting-house counting in his money. Our people will 
continue to live as a race of petty and exploited town-dwellers ; 
having their homes in tenements, slums, and villas, seeking 

gramophone, their sport in the vicarious football of hirelings, 
their food in tins and packets, and their literature and politics 
in halfpenny newspapers bribed by the advertising manufacturers 
of soap, drink, tobacco, underwear, and patent medicines. As 
a result of this exploitation the majority of the people will 
continue to exist, as they did before the war, in such a state 
of unenlightenment that their whole religion, philosophy, 
politics, courtesy, and even humour could be summed up in a 
handful of catch-phrases. 

There is of course nothing new in this claim that school 
should be a place where boys may leam how to face the 
world, how to cope with its problems, and how to give 
society the benefit of their able service ; and there are many 
schoolmasters, even in the old public schools, who are quite 
ready to agree, so long as the proposal is stated as vaguely as 
it is in this sentence. But when we come to practical sugges- 
tions, and say that in order to make all this good a school musi 
be as far as possible a little State in itself, representing business 
organization, governmental duties, arts and crafts, and so on, as 
part of the life of the place, then the protests begin. You 
may add as much as you like to an already overcrowded time- 
table, but you mustn't take anything out ! 

So far as the framing of a curriculum for the little schoo! 
State is concerned many subjects which are not now regarded as 
" specialist " in the usual school sense would have to be sc 
regarded ; and in order to plan out a reasonable system at all 
we should have to consider the very beginnings of a special sul^ee 
as part of a special subject, and consequently disallow then: 
until the age of special subjects had been reached. A Latic 
teacher thought it ridiculous of me to suggest that boys ol 
thirteen were specialists, simply because they began to lean 
Latin at that age. The teacher of science thought the same 
Of course the Latinist and the scientist looked upon the boys as 
very tyros, and therefore not to be numbered among specialists 
But the effect was this : twice as many lessons had to be giver 
to Latin beginnings as to English proper, and nature stud) 
had to be dropped entirely (at the age of thirteen) in ordei 
that a beginning might be made in physics and chemistry 



If this is not specializing in classics and science to the detriment 
of other and more general subjects perhaps a more resounding 
word can be foimd to describe it ; but the effect is the same 
whatever term we use. 

I was much refreshed recently to hear a specialist science 
master stating a strong case against any specializing in science 
by boys during school years. He said that he had too full a 
realization of what a thorough scientific knowledge should mean 
in a man's view of life to believe that boys even of fifteen or 
sixteen could gain any wide benefit by spending most of their 
school time upon it. The more closely their attention at that 
age was concentrated upon chemistry, physics, botany, anatomy, 
or what not, the narrower would their outlook become. The 
general advantage to a man's mind which comes of having an 
expert knowledge of some branch of science, and the recognition 
of the value of science in relation to other aspects of life — 
to art, literature, sociology — ^these were the ultimate benefits 
of specializing, and they were the benefits which boys could 
not attain luitil they had gained at least a fair acquaint- 
ance with life-lore as a whole. School specializing could 
only do harm by turning their minds aside from all they 
might be attending to of the general and the universal ; and 
confining their attention at this most impressionable age to 
intricate particulars and the mastery of specialist details in 

As a solution of the difficulty the scientist suggested that 
nature study be substituted for science throughout the school 
course ; but nature study in a wide and generous sense, nature 
study as a humanist subject, correlated on the one hand with 
active pursuits such as gardening, collecting, hedgerow ramblings 
and regional survey, and on the other hand with geography 
and with English literature. In suggesting the correlation of 
natiu:e study with literature he was not thinking merely of the 
poems on flowers which are so often read in connexion with 
object-lessons, but had in mind such students of nature as 

* Accoiding to the Play Way the same conclusion holds good of the 
study of ancient tongues, or of mathematics, or of any other specialist 
subject which requires early attention to the particular at the cost of 
the general. 


Izaak Walton, Thoreau, Fabre, Jefferies, and others more than 
I had heard of. 

How easy it will be for the classical teachers to see this 
aspect of our case and to appreciate the argument against 
young boys specializing particularly in science, when there 
is so much of the general still to be compassed as nature study. 
But how difficult it will be for them to accept the " tu quoque," 
or rather the " et tu Brute," when we remind them that English 
is not only available for general study, but even contains a 
fair literature of its own ; and that it does not require four or 
five years of arduous study before the pupil can read this our 
mother tonguei for what it has to convey to him, whether in 
content or in style. 

But indeed it is not surprismg if teachers of Latin and 
Greek still feel themselves justified in plugging away at ancient 
tongues for the sake of imparting a reflected glow of cultiu-e 
upon the very few who ever learn to read in those tongues. 
For do but observe what our teachers of English are doing. 
English having been elevated to the dignity of a " subject " 
in English schools, must at once be surrounded by difficulties 
and set about with entanglements, in order that there may 
be something to teach ; that is to say, according to a subject 
teacher's view, some barrier between the pupil and his normal 
objective. The fact that the boys of a secondary school have 
already a considerable familiarity with their mother tongue 
should be seized upon by the teacher of English as a great 
opportimity to be rid of subject limitations. He should be able 
immediately to read the classics of English literature with the 
boys. Boys of twelve in a secondary school know enough 
English to understand all that is needful for a due appreciation 
of many of the English classics. In fact, even if we restrict 
ourselves to the very first rank of English poets and prose- 
writers there are more books to be read than any boy could 
read with profitable study, even if he did nothing else but read 
English in his school-time.* Boys of twelve in a secondary 

* The statement is so obviously true that no instances are really 
required. But the following should occur to every teacher as representing 
literature of the very best within the comprehension of boys of twelve : 
Malory, Bemers' " Froissart," North's " Plutarch," the Bible, Mandeville, 



school, also, know enough English to make good lectures and 
straightway to write fair prose, poems, and even plays. On 
the very day the boys come to school they have far more 
knowledge of and power in English than most of them will 
ever have in any other tongue. Teachers of Greek, Latin, 
French, and German are handicapped. There must (according 
to our present system) be years of toilsome language study 
before the literature of these can even be read with comfort, 
or the language used freely and beautifully as a medium of 
expression. But does the teacher of English use this advantage ? 
Not he. As a conventional schoolmaster he has it so stuck in 
his mind that everything in school is a svJyect to be learnt that 
he apes the teachers of more difficult and unfamiliar subjects, 
vies with the Latin master in teaching grammar ; affects to 
believe that English still has cases, a subjunctive mood, and the 
other effete paraphernalia of parsing ; and when all else fails, 
and the boys really have come at the content, he makes them 
translate the sense of a passage out of that glorious mediiun 
which makes it literature into journalese or current schoolmaster. 
I believe that if the eating of apples were appointed to be taught 
in schools some special course of study would immediately 
spring up which would make it impossible for a playboy to get 
a really satisfactory bite, and to know the flavoxu" of apples, 
until at least a year's course had been completed. In that case 
I should be a firm supporter of the robbing of orchards. 

When one directly charges schoolmasters with wasting 
time, effort, and latent interest in teaching subjects in such 
a way that they have no appeal to the boys and no clear 
connexion with life as it is understood by the outside world, 
the earnest men among them, those who have really thought 
about their work in relation to life, are apt to make the 
following reply : " The duty of a school is to teach the 
highest things ; to give the boys a general outlook of an 

Hakluyt, about a fourth part of Shakespeare, Bunyan, the Ballads, 
some of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century essayists, novelists 
such as Defoe, Dickens, Scott, selections from Wordsworth, Coleridge, 
Keats, Shelley, Byron, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold. The list, of 
course, is endless. Yet this is only what is fit for boys of twelve to 
appreciate at once. Ten years later they should still be reading the 
same writers as well as those they had taken up in the senior standards. 

practical anairs or daily Ute ; to set an ideal belore tbem 
towards which they may work, whatever their daily sphere of 
Ufe may be later on." While one smiles at the naiive vagueness 
of this claim, they come out with an emphatic answer to what 
they fancy is the case against them : " You seem to think that 
it is the business of schoolmasters so to teach that the boys, at 
the end of their school course, will be fully qualified merchants, 
engineers, architects, lawyers, soldiers, journalists, grocers, 
and so on." So far as the present school system goes any 
attempt at a definite vocational training is, of course, a great 
mistake.* But I think it would be wise so to modify the present 
school system that a course of training would be possible which 
would render the boys thoroughly efficient in certain methods 
and disciplines which are common to all of these callings. 
But we are more concerned to challenge the positive part of 
the statement just quoted. Do we claim " to give the boys a 
general outlook " ? To how many of the boys imder our care 
can we as subject teachers claim to have given a general outlook ? 
Possibly to that same four or five out of twenty-five to whom 
we really manage to teach Latin or history or English literature. 
Certainly we cannot have given a general outlook to the rest, 
for we can only claim the ultimate benefit of our teaching for 
those whom we really teach. 

And then consider those words " something to serve as a 
guide." Surely a guide is one who goes with you and shows 
the way and not a mere bimch of theoretical directions and 
recommendations. Rules which are taught before examples are 
encountered must be taught again afterwards if they are ever 
to be learnt. In the process of learning there should be at 
least as much of practice as of instruction, and the theory and 
practice of a study must be united in education. Even if all 
our schools actually did inspire their pupils with noble aim, 
and a zeal for high endeavour (which is far from being the 
case), we should still be no nearer to the real function of the 
school, namely, the training of boys and girls to take their 
places in the world. It is not enough for the school to have 
given the pupil an ideal outlook and a thorough knowledge 

• Cf. Perse Playbooks, No. 4, p. 36. 



of Latin and Greek, or science or mathematics or modem 
languages (quite apart from the fact that to most pupils the 
school gives neither the one nor the other, neither the ideal 
outlook nor the thorough knowledge of a special subject). 
If we are agreed that education should be a preparation for 
life, the pupils must have some practice at life. This it could 
be made possible for them to do under encouragement and 
due guidance by the establishment of the Uttle school States 
we propose. And the method of education would then become 
truly Play in the best sense of the word, in the sense of life- 
practice, a making ready for that world game which is to 

Some teachers may remind us that not all our pupils are 
destined to be practical performers in the busy world. There 
must be the man of wisdom, they will say, as well as the man of 
action. Assuredly ; and if we allow boys to develop in a 
natural way, encoxu-aging rather than repressing the growth of 
their minds, we shall presently o bserve in one boy a tendency in 
one direction and in another boy a tendency in another direction. 
But during the school period, during the years that are devoted 
to his training, every boy should study both the wisdom to know 
and the skill to do. This " union of thought and conduct in a 
life of action guided by reason " is not the invention of any 
modem educational reformers. It was the ideal of the Greeks. 
But our learned friends, who have been in charge of education 
in England ever since the days of the Renaissance, have long 
since repudiated the Greek system. For, look you, they give 
the most of a boy's school-time to the study of ancient 



The final pages of this book Jreally embody more of promise 
than of conclusion ; for in the foregoing chapters we have 
only been demonstrating how the Play Way may be appUed 
in the classroom itself, or as a partial liberation from it in schools 
where the curriculum is based on classroom practice. But if 
we are ever to bring the Play Way fully into being we require 
no less than a Little Commonwealth devoted to that end, a 
commonwealth unhampered on the one hand by the relics of 
obsolete systems, or on the other by the fear of adopting new 
methods not yet perfected. Such a school, with a sketch of 
its curriculum and time-table, of its studies, games, sports, and 
festivals — ^and even of the dress of the boys and girls — ^had been 
discussed in the final chapter, since cancelled because the 
subject required a book to itself. And so, if any of my readers 
has anticipated in this conclusion to be presented with some 
charming ideal pictm-e of daily life as we conceive it would be 
in a school run entirely on Play Way lines, he must, I fear, be 

For the past ten years, all the good I have seen in life or 
have been able to learn from books — ^whether in music, in 
poetry, in scholarship, in handicraft, in social life, or in the 
simple joys of children — has been to me stone upon stone in 
building up that ideal republic in my fancy. Whenever I have 
seen boys and girls playing happily or working well I have 
imagined they must be citizens of my Play School. Whenever 
I have spoken seriously with any man or woman I have told 
them of my dream. Even the invigoration of a frosty morning, 
or the enchantment of the moon at night, have always made 
me think : Here is gone by another morning or another 
evening which might have been made some occasion of 
good hap in the Play School. The one thing upon which 



my heart is fixed is to make this dream come true in this 
our England. 

I will not cease from mental fight, 

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand 
Till we have built Jerusalem 

In England's green and pleasant land. 

One knows of course that all idealist reformers have been 
equally ambitious and yet have rarely if ever achieved more 
than the first promise of their great intent. But in idealism 
to aim at anything less than perfection is not to aim at all. 

In comparison with these great hopes this book as a whole 
seems to its writer nothing more than a first essay in educational 
method ; and, since the best thing to do with an ideal is to 
realize it, my next duty shall be to set out in plain terms the 
practical lines to be followed in making this dream come true. 

It was stated at the outset that the only originahty 
claimed in this book is a fresh reahzation of the oldest 
truths, and that your true Revolutionary is only a Con- 
servative endowed with insight. Accordingly we ask the 
reader to recall how, both in small things and in great, we 
have advocated nothing in the way of novelty, but have looked 
rather to antiquity ; how we have set forth no inventions, but 
given all our thought to the rediscovery of what has been too 
long overlaid with the dross of thoughtless observance and the 
ashes of dead fires. There is, we are told, nothing new under 
the sun, and there can be nothing really old, even under the 
moon, for those who have learnt of the human heart why it is 
that history repeats itself. 

Bacon in his essay " Of Innovations " puts together many 
wise saws which must be of permanent interest both to reformers 
and to reactionaries : " Surely every medicine is an innovation, 
and he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils ; 
for time is the greatest innovator : and if time of course alter 
things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them 
to the better, what shall be the end ? It is true that what is 
settled by custom, though it be not good, yet at least it is fit. 
And those things which have long gone together are, as it were, 
confederate within themselves ; whereas new things piece not 
so well ; but though they help by their utility, yet they trouble 


by their inconformity. Besides, they are like strangers, more 
admired and less favoured. All this is true if time stood still ; 
which contrariwise moveth so round, that a froward retention of 
custom is as turbulent a thing as an innovation ; and they that 
reverence too much old times are but a scorn to the new. It 
were good, therefore, that men in their innovations would 
follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth 
greatly but quietly and by degrees scarce to be perceived." 

The Play Way is no turbulent novelty. We do but propose 
to cast away all that is purposeless and ciunbersome, to keep 
all that is good of existing institutions, and where invention is 
necessary, to follow out tradition in a common-sense manner, 
so that we seem not to be innovating at all, but simply carrying 
out the next step in a natural development. 

In this book we have introduced certain new words, or 
have used some old ones in a new sense. Ben Jonson in his 
" Discoveries " says, " Pure and neat language I love, yet 
plain and customary. A barbarous phrase hath often made 
me out of love with a good sense." And again, " All attempts 
that are new in this kind are dangerous, and somewhat hard, 
before they be softened with use. A man coins not a new word 
without some peril and less fruit ; for if it happen to be received, 
the praise is but moderate ; if refused, the scorn is assured. 
Yet," he says, " we must adventure ; for things at first hard 
and rough are by use made tender and gentle. It is an honest 
error that is committed following great chiefs." 

We have been careful to innovate wisely, always choosing 
words simple in form and plain in meaning. Let the reader, in 
proof of this, try how many of our new words he can recall. 
His vocabulary will start with "mister," but will, I fancy, 
proceed little farther. 

In fact, the honest reader will agree, I am sure, that there 
is nothing new in this book. Most of the reforms advocated 
either here or in the proposals for a Play School Commonwealth 
are in existence already ; either thriving, as in the case of the 
dramatic method, self-government, or scouting ; or merely in 
abeyance as in the case of festival observance and the arts 
of the people. Dr. Rouse has said,* " The dream is only to 
* Preface to Perse Playbooks, No. 3. 



co-ordinate under one plan, with one central idea, the work of a 
number of persons who have been working separately. The 
dream has come true in parts and all that remains is to put the 
parts together." Putting together will not do, however ; the 
parts must be fused. 

But though new and old are words to juggle with to-day, so 
that any one may call the one by the name of the other, yet it is 
most certain that there are things fresh and things stale, quite 
easy to be distinguished. The central idea of this book is that 
education, which is the training of youth, should be filled with 
that spirit which is everywhere recognized as the character of 
youth, namely freshness, zeal, happiness, enthusiasm. That is 
our guiding principle. Those who now shall cling to what is 
left of the immediate past, and bemoan what is lost of it, will 
only be unhappy in themselves and do no service to their fellows. 
But those who intend to live in any sense positively in these 
present years will work for the era which is already well begim, 
and for the appointed work of our time, which is even now 
afoot. This is the age of the young men. Possibly om- young 
men as they mature will develop into the same insufferable old 
humbugs as oiu" greybeards are now. But the world to-day is 
full of freshness, vigour — ^yes, and sanity — ^and it is the Play 
Way and nothing else which can keep it so. 

For the matter of our learning we shall bring back into 
full play all that is naturally bound up with the true interests 
of young people, and reverently set by in a museimi all studies, 
subjects, and methods for which we can find no present use. We 
must store the rejected things with prudence, and label them 
carefully, for they will all be needed again ! " The whirUgig of 
Time brings in his revenges." 

A certain modest but well-known writer says that genius is 
best described as brilliant common sense ; and if you will think 
of all the greatest men, whether in art, science, politics, or 
literature, you will see that he is right. Above all must common 
sense be the presiding genius in education. 

Reformers make the more valuable contribution to that 
periodical change in human society which is called progress, 
the more they preserve of the good parts in the overgrowth and 
accumulation they destroy. Let us be iconoclasts by all means 


if we deem it necessary, but let us not presume to go beyond the 
breaking of images. The only evil in them is the evil of 
" incrustation," of belief congealed into inactive acceptance, of 
faith hardened by long habit and thoughtless observance into 
formalism and a dead ritual. The spirit which makes images and 
the spirit which breaks them is one and the same. The sole 
enemy is the want of spirit which renders worship to the mere 

And so, realizing that extremes are always dangerous except 
just at that one point or centre where they meet and are fused in 
the character of a man, let us, with Blake for pattern, seek a 
blend of vision and reality, with Milton's ambition and Milton's 
modesty, so that in ourselves we may become an example to show 
that work and play, old things and new things, use and value, 
enthusiasm and common sense, though often contrary in them- 
selves, are possible to be united in each of us and in the body oi 
our Commonwealth. And now at this time of stir and change 
^et us make our choice among dreams. 

For each age is a dream that is dying 
Or one that is coming to birth. 


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